Friday, September 6, 2019

UPDATE: 9.11: Commission to unveil new district voting maps - SEE MAPS BELOW

Surprise! Surprise!

With slow and no response to public records requests and with minimal public notice, Sarasota County will unveil its proposed new District-level maps next week. All this stems from the Board's decision in April to explore reconsideration of the boundaries of the five county districts, in light of the new Single Member Voting.

Please attend the County Commission meeting Wednesday morning 9 AM:

County Administration Building
County Commission Chambers, 1st Floor
1660 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota

Why this matters: Cathy Antunes

Show your opposition to this “plan”. An Open to the Public session will 
precede the Redistricting discussion. See you on Wednesday!

 <<<<BREAKING NEWS: Here are the maps Spitzer will present Wednesday:>>>>






Kurt Spitzer
Kurt Spitzer, redistricting consultant hired by Sarasota County with a no-bid
contract, will review the “alternative” District maps created with private 
input from individual County Commissioners.
How’s that FL Sunshine Law workin’ for ya? 


Board of County Commissioners Agenda: Page 1
1. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – (Three-minute time limit per person.)

How open is it?  From The Sarasota News Leader:
Additionally, county Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester
confirmed with staff that, as of late afternoon on Sept. 4, three of the
commissioners — Charles Hines, Nancy Detert and Christian Ziegler —
have scheduled one-on-one telephone conversations with the consultant
who is handling the redistricting initiative for the county,
Kurt Spitzer of Tallahassee. The Sarasota News Leader
Will this telephone conversations be recorded? Will it be known how long
they lasted, what was discussed?
While the consultant and commissioners huddle over the phone preparing their own maps, the information needed by and promised to the public is being withheld.

Is it ignorance or incompetence?

It isn't ignorance. The commissioners were told during the final open to the public comments on August 27 that the deliverables from Spitzer and Associates (block-level GIS data) were not publicly available.

It might be incompetence. 

County staff says, "The [block level] data was in an Aug. 2 memorandum from Spitzer to the County Commission." 

The memo, however, does not contain the county-wide block needed by the public to produce their own redistricting maps. Instead, it provides info for "key growth blocks by district."  

Despite repeated public records requests from several citizens, as of September 5, the County and Spitzer had provided block-level population data for only:
  1. 6% of the population (23,153 out of an estimated 417,000 Sarasota County residents)
  2. 1% of the blocks (92 out of about about 7,500 Sarasota County census blocks) 
Finally on Sept. 6, a public records request for block data from The Sarasota News Leader was responded to. According to the county,  the entire block data spreadsheet is now here.

By the deadline [contract deadline July 31] , just one of the deliverables below -- Part (c) -- was delivered -- two days late, on August 2.

Part (b) was provided to the public late on September 6

Spitzer & Associates has not fulfilled their Task 1 contractual obligations, and the county has been laggard in providing the data necessary for the public to prepare alternate maps. (see below)

If it's not incompetence, they know exactly what they're doing -- withholding information to prevent an informed public response to the maps being presented on September 11.


Image of districts formerly used on BCC web page


===

By the deadline, just one of the deliverables below -- (c) -- was provided:
Copies of Task 1 Deliverables from SC PO #193092.. Vendor: KURT SPITZER AND ASSOCIATES INC...Including:  
(a.) GIS - The 2010 and 2018 population estimates in file geodatabase or shapefile format at the 2010 Census Block level of geography. 
(b.) Spreadsheet - Block-level results will be summarized by commission district and exported to Excel format. 
(c.) Report – A narrative report describing the methodology used to update the 2010 Census data. THIS WAS PROVIDED 
(d.) Map - A “heat map” in PDF format showing 2010-2018 growth by block. It will be shaded semi-transparent with imagery as a base. Commission district boundaries will be shown. A table summarizing the population estimates by BCC District will be included on the map showing the following 2018 information:  
 BCC District number Average (mean) population  Actual population Deviation from the mean Percent deviation White population and Percent white population Black population and Percent black population Hispanic population and Percent Hispanic population Other population and Percent other population.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

9.11: Protect rural heritage or promote urban sprawl

Citizens' Proposal to Cut Density of Northern Hamlet in Half
Wednesday, September 11,  1:30 pm
Sarasota County Commission, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

Developers' Proposal to Double Density of All Three Hamlets
Thursday, September 19,  5:00 pm
                          Sarasota County Planning Commission, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota


Rural Heritage
The fate of 15,000 acres in far east Sarasota County is on the line this month, as County officials weigh competing proposals from citizens and developers.

On September 11, the County Commission will first consider whether to authorize processing of a citizen petition to amend the Comprehensive Plan, as allowed by the County Code.

The petition -- the first ever brought by citizens, not developers -- would reduce the density of 6,000 acres at the northeast corner of Fruitville Road and Verna Road from Hamlet development (.4 units per acre - clustered to one unit per acre) to Rural Heritage Estate (at one unit per five acres), consistent with surrounding homes in that area. The change is promoted by the Miakkka Community Club, representing homeowners nearby, and supported by Control Growth Now. The petition -- indeed the very idea of a citizen petition -- was opposed by the Board-appointed Planning Commission.

Next, on September 19, the Planning Commission will consider a proposal by the developer of that north Hamlet to double its clustered density to two units per acre, as well as for the two other Hamlets to the south, provided that the developer agrees to hook up the County's already overstressed water and sewer utilities. That change -- which would impact 15,000 acres in toto -- is opposed by the County's Development Review Committee, which concluded that it "does not appear to be warranted," as well as by County planning staff and Control Growth Now. (More here.)

Both one unit-per-acre and two units-per-acre are urban densities under the Comprehensive Plan. Control Growth Now has long advocated that such urban sprawl does not belong in the eastern rural lands.

Rural Heritage:Miakka Schoolhouse

On September 11, 2019, you can help a rural heritage community hold the line on broken county promises and thwart another construction invasion.

At 1:30 pm, the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners will decide either to


protect our rural heritage


or 

promote urban sprawl.


Sprawl east of I-75

The Miakka Community near Verna Road and Fruitville Road represents one of the oldest neighborhoods in our county. It's a strong voice. Even if you don't live in East County, this is your concern – what's happening there is a harbinger of what’s coming.



When density in your neighborhood jumps before you turn around, you’ve been had – by developers who changed the rules through sleight of hand. Before you can say "traffic jam," your peaceful neighborhood is a memory.

Out east, residents are fighting back against developers who want to more than triple the density of land as currently zoned. This is leapfrog development!

With the theme of Sarasota Country, this active community adopted the slogan:
"Keep the Country...Country
Rural Heritage - Not Urban Sprawl."
The Miakka Community aims to protect rural heritage land from egregious development and density. This is a fair fight against the unfair developers-take-all boondoggle.

We can all support this community at the commission meeting on September 11, 2019, at 1660 Ringling Blvd. (support agenda item CPA 2019-C to protect Rural Heritage)

Let's be witness to this opportunity for our commissioners to clearly demonstrate that they do NOT support URBAN SPRAWL




More info

This fight is for all of us!

 

Do we want leapfrog development? More County Utilities feeding nitrogen to our waterways? Do we want to lose our rural heritage?



Monday, August 26, 2019

"Nobody told us" say Sarasota's elected leaders

"Hear no evil" was the refrain at Sarasota County's budget workshop the other day.

Top to bottom: Sarasota
Commissioners Al Maio, Mike Moran, Christian Ziegler, Charles Hines, Nancy Detert
Bottom right: 20 years of county data indicating rising nitrates in Sarasota waterways
When the issue of the degraded condition of Sarasota's wastewater facilities came up, Sarasota's elected officials bravely faced the fact that their public duty requires them to invest $150 million in the facility in order to meet state DEP standards.

They then concluded the workshop by covering their posteriors (around 2 hr 31 min):
“Were we asleep at the wheel?” Commissioner Christian Ziegler asked, referencing Detert’s earlier remarks.. . . He remembered asking [County Administrator Jonathan] Lewis, Ziegler continued, about comments he had heard in the community about wastewater spills. Lewis’ response, Ziegler said, was that the county generally had no problems except during hurricanes and other heavy rain periods.
Then just a few days later, Ziegler added, he heard about the federal lawsuit.
“I talked to previous commissioners,” asking if they were aware of the problems, Ziegler pointed out. “Nobody had any idea, I think.” Sarasota News Leader
If Sarasota's elected officials now believe that crucial, economically significant information was systematically withheld from them, why not get to the bottom  of this mystery?
“I can’t remember anybody ever coming to me, privately or publicly,” [Commissioner Charles Hines] added, to suggest the need for the upgrade of the Bee Ridge facility.
The reason the commissioners were told nothing about the water treatment plant problems, [Commissioner Mike] Moran indicated — based on what he had heard — was that previous staff members felt the commissioners never would consider paying a high price to resolve the issues. (SNL)
Mike Mylett, left, was only appointed head of wastewater in April,
Commissioner Nancy Detert tried to blame him for not telling the Board last year
about problems at the facility. Administrator Jonathan Lewis on the right.

Well now. Instead of indiscriminately throwing staff under the bus, our commissioners might have taken another tack: ordering an independent investigation to find out what persons, what assumptions, what mechanisms, what puppeteers are concealing significant information from public view.

When he ran for reelection in 2018, Commissioner Al Maio claimed he'd kept Sarasota property taxes low for 20 years, but, somehow, this came at no cost to the environment or infrastructural conditions, to parks and other services, or to long range planning and development. Maio was reelected by voters who apparently are drawn to magical thinking.

It may be past time for citizens of Sarasota to buy a clue for our elected officials -- to say something like:

If you don't know how come you're not apprised of key data relating to our economy, environment, and infrastructure, don't you think it might be a good idea to find out how and why that is?

How does critically important information for the people of Sarasota get suppressed? At whose bidding? How long has this been going on?

Are Commissioners Moran and Detert going to run on a platform of "nobody told me" in next year's election? And Mr. Moran in 2022?

Perhaps it's all too clear. You know the trail would lead right back to you and your friends, whose ambitious large-scale activities have long contributed to the rise in nitrates feeding Red Tide in our waters. (At your morning session on Affordable Housing, developer Pat Neal thanked you for lower impact fees here than in Manatee County.)


If you choose not to investigate, what does this say about the value you place upon "hard truths"?





Thursday, August 15, 2019

Oops we did it again



FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF
Environmental Protection

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Building
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000
Ron DeSantis
Governor

Jeanette Nuñez
Lt. Governor

Noah Valenstein
Secretary


Notice of Submission
Pursuant to Section 403.077, F.S., the Department of Environmental Protection has received the following Public Notice of Pollution for a reportable release. All information displayed was submitted by the reporting party.

Type of Notice: Initial Report
Date of Notice: 08/15/2019

Incident Information
Name of Incident: BR WRF Reuse 081519
State Watch Office Case Number: 4596
Start of Incident: 08/15/2019 10:30
Incident is on-going as of: 08/15/2019 16:01

Incident Description
Earlier this morning, due to the continuous rains and flooding conditions in the area, the reclaimed water storage pond at the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility began to overflow through the emergency spillway. Reclaimed water in the pond is water that has been fully treated, meets all public access reuse standards and is typically used for irrigation purposes. Staff has begun sampling at the pond and downstream to monitor the effects of the emergency discharge. Staff will continue to monitor the situation and make every effort to minimize the volume and duration of the event. We will monitor the water flowing from our reuse holding pond to Philippi Creek, and take samples Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until such time that the demand for reuse increases, and the spill ceases.


Incident Location
Facility/Installation Name: Bee Ridge WRF
Address Line 1:
Address Line 2:
Directions:
City:
State: FL
Zip Code:
Coordinates (in decimal degrees):
Lat: 27.301835838888838, Long: -82.39068863589023
Impacted Counties: Sarasota


Incident Reported By
Name: David Hawkins
Title: Chief Operator
Phone: (941) 861-6790
E-mail Address: dhawkins@scgov.net

On-Site Contact
Name: Patricia Nihart
Phone: (941) 861-6790
Ext:
E-mail Address: pnihart@scgov.net

To view a list of all received Public Notices of Pollution or to modify your e-mail subscription settings, please click the link below:
Public Notice of Pollution

Florida Department of Environmental Protection





"Refreshingly Simple" Growth in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

Lakewood Ranch is big developer territory, and SRQ Magazine was on the spot when Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis came to update business folk there the other day.

And if SRQ Magazine is to be believed, growth here is all -- or mostly -- wonderful. SRQ's Olivia Liang put it this way:
This sold-out event demonstrated the unified efforts of the SRQ region and revolved around a refreshingly simple concept: growth.  
The Nine Muses: Mantegna
Doubtless inspired by the Muses of Insatiable Development, SRQ's Ms. Liang then launched into an operatic Paeon to growth:
Tourism continues to grow, with Nathan Benderson Park bringing in a net $47 million for sports tourism in the past year. And between the rebranding of the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in downtown Bradenton to the institution of roundabouts to regulate the flow of school traffic on Honore, the expansion of the Legacy Trail for resident-use and the construction of the new Atlanta Braves Spring Training Stadium that was widely funded by the private sector and will be owned by Sarasota County, the region shows no signs of slowing. 
However, Liang did need to report a little water issue, seeing as Administrator Lewis inconveniently brought it up:
But one looming presence seemed to unite the two counties more than any other: water quality. With red tide and blue and green algae blooms affecting the “economic lifeblood of the state,” according to Lewis, both counties agree that the improvement of water quality “needs to happen on a statewide basis.” But at the same time, “we can’t wait on everybody else,” added Lewis, referencing the June Sarasota County Water Quality Summit with 700 attendees, demonstrating the active and current conversation surrounding a proposed $150 million wastewater treatment plan that would improve drinking, fishing and swimming water, in combination with a $5 million septic-to-sewer program.
Fish killed by disastrous Red Tide in 2018

Apart from that one teenie-weenie problem, God's in his heaven and all's good in Sarasota and Manatee, according to SRQ:
In its most recent Citizen Survey, Sarasota County reported that 97% of the surveyed described their overall quality of life as excellent (45%) or good (52%), which is up from previous years. 
But how sure are we that our quality-of-life satisfaction will continue? Not very, it seems.

Some area developers

That "Citizen Opinion Survey," presented to the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners some months ago, happened to make it clear that the public is openly dissatisfied with the nature, direction and management of the local economy, in two ways:

First, we 're worried about the utter lack of economic diversity -- our workers do construction -- there's little in the way of manufacturing, or hi-tech businesses. (The Board's notion of a clean upscale business to promote is James Gabbert's Waste Transfer Facility (WTF), now rising to glare at the Celery Fields and the highway).

Absence of diverse economic drivers is a key flaw of Sarasota Manatee area

Second: Over the past 5 years, the single greatest concern expressed by the people contacted by this survey is GROWTH - the very theme that SRQ celebrates as the glory of Sarasota/Manatee:

Growth - major issue for residents of Sarasota County
GROWTH is by far the single greatest threat to our quality of life, according to this survey - at 24% in 2018, it dwarfs CRIME -- the runner up at 10%, TRAFFIC (5%), and JOBS (4%).

Indeed, add together the concern ratios for CRIME, TRAFFIC and JOBS (you get 19%) and it's still less than the portion of residents who've cited GROWTH as the primary issue for the past five years.

So there you have it: The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, along with the Builders and Contractors, the Realtors, the Argus Foundation, SRQ Magazine and our elected officials -- one happy choir singing the praises of Growth -- the area's biggest problem, according to taxpayers, who are perhaps more mindful of trending issues:
From 2010 to 2018, the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) of the University of Florida says Sarasota County’s population climbed 10%, putting the county in the highest growth category in the state.The  
As of April 1, 2018, BEBR estimated Sarasota County’s population at 417,442. By 2040, BEBR’s projections show, the county could have as many as 600,800 residents. The Sarasota News Leader
Michael A. Moran, Commissioner District 1
Moran
Christian Ziegler, Commissioner District 2
Ziegler
Nancy C. Detert, Commsioner District 3
Detert
Alan Maio, Commissioner District 4
Maio
Charles D. Hines, Commissioner District 5
Hines

During the past five years while growth has been the biggest worry on residents' minds, our elected officials have:

1. Ignored county data that documented a long-term, significant rise of nitrogen in our bays and waterways:



2. Neglected Sarasota's aging, leaking, spilling wastewater plant and pipes;

3. Fallen far behind funding roadwork to keep pace with new development*;

4. Gone to unprecedented lengths to weaken Comprehensive Plan and other important constraints on developers, and

5. Approved several large-scale developments in east Sarasota County, with more in the planning pipeline.


The Tischler Report, commissioned by Sarasota County in 1999, was supposed to prove that growth paid for itself. Its findings proved the opposite -- we pay for growth. Local leaders quickly buried the report.

Tischler's analysis showed we pay for growth

So this might invite the question: what will Sarasota and Manatee look like two or three decades?

It's refreshingly simple:








Monday, July 15, 2019

Lucas: A legacy for Sarasota


To: County Commissioner Charles Hines
cc: SRQ County Commissioners Maio, Moran, Ziegler and Detert
cc: SRQ Affordable Housing Advisory Committee
cc: Facebook Celery Fields Group, SRQ Citizens for Sarasota, Personal Facebook Page

From: Adrien Lucas
Re: Board decision approving affordable housing on parcel #2 by July 22 / Chronic Sewage Dumps into the Sarasota Gulf waters
Commissioner Hines,
I began this email a few weeks ago when I read an article published by the Sarasota News Leader regarding the County Commission board’s latest absurd affordable housing proposal to be plopped down on Quad Property Parcel #2 adjacent to the Celery Fields. I continue to be fuming angry and I am also very frustrated that I am not living in Sarasota full time because I would, again, devote any free time, to fight the BOCC's proposal for putting affordable housing on Parcel #2. 


Before I begin, I want to stress that affordable housing, even if the Celery Fields were not adjacent to the quad property you have suggested for affordable housing, is no gift to people who are in real need of affordable housing.
The road that you propose this project on has a grade rating that is as close to failure as it gets. With Mr. Gabbert’s waste transfer facility, along with other industrial trucking in the area, placing affordable homes on a street that is never going to be widened, improved or having traffic thinned out, is about the biggest insult you can gift the poor or working middle to lower class. Oh yes, let’s put these poor people on a road that is dangerous and heavily trafficked with semis. What a blessing that our children can play outside next to these traffic jams and semi exhaust fumes. Seriously, shame on you.  This quad parcel is not a place for healthy living.
Time and time again, you all ignore what the public has asked, begged, written, tons of personal time spent trying to show you what these quads could do by way of enhancing the area and complimenting what already exists, to have a Quad Property back on the agenda, especially for affordable housing, illustrates how self serving politicians are. I digress.

I will be sharing Commissioner Hines' affordable housing proposal for Quad #2, coupled with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s attempt to acquire acreage adjacent to the Celery Fields. It's sad that the evidence is so brightly shining regarding what the Celery Field Quads and local area can be, however, none of you are capable of seeing a Golden Nugget that exists as is and will take very little effort on your part to do what your constituents and people around the world have asked all of you and your predecessors in loud community abundance.  FOLD THE CELERY FIELD QUAD PROPERTIES into the existing Celery Field storm water management lands and designate them as parkland.

If the County Commission had enforced the numerous "affordable housing" constructs they created for the top developers (who clearly run the county) then this flimsy discussion regarding selling surplus county owned land for affordable housing would not be a discussion.

Al Maio
If Commissioner Hines were truly concerned about affordable housing then he would have addressed this issue years ago when it became very clear that the Developers were ignoring any concessions they had agreed to commit to for affordable housing. Instead Commissioner Hines, you rolled over every time Christine Robinson raised an eyebrow and you folded every time. Same with you, Commissioner Maio.

Commissioner Hines clearly wants to leave some kind of redeeming legacy because he has acquiesced to every Benderson, Neil, Gabbert (etc.) request and he has never ever made the developers follow anything they had said they would do regarding affordable housing for their Sarasota developments.

Shame on you Commissioner Hines and shame on the rest of you for acting like sheep and agreeing that Parcel 2 is just a dazzling piece of property for affordable housing. It is so unctuous to think that Mr. Neal or Mr. Benderson continue to skate on by with county corporate welfare and you all think you are going to save the day by building affordable housing units on a crappy street that has D grade for its quality with large trucks now zooming up and down from Gabbert’s little stinkin’ waste transfer sty, zoned light industrial, with all of you refusing to change zoning and now all of a sudden it’s paradise for the poor?  Puh’leeze. Shame on all of you. This presents as the biggest insult to every person who has contacted you to consider saving the Celery Fields Quad properties and the communities who have grown and flourished in that area. You all are failing the people who live out there.



This is not representation. Between redistricting, ignoring amendments voted in by Sarasota constituents and now this, you, the Commission, act solely based upon any self serving whim that strikes your fancy. I bet an email inquiry to public records will show how little county citizens are emailing Commissioner Detert telling her the Celery Quads should be developed into affordable housing/apartments.  I bet the emails that all of you are receiving regarding the Quad properties demonstrate majority opposition to developing or selling the Quad properties will outweigh affordable housing email.
As for the Housing Affordability Initiative you all passed on November 28, 2018, seriously, this is the best scheme you can come with? And while I appreciate the members on the board trying to address this serious issue of affordability in the county, the boards should be preparing a lawsuit against Benderson, Neal and any other developer who has failed to honor the contracts they created with the county regarding affordable housing.

The Celery Field Quads are not and should not be considered for affordable housing. It is not an appropriate place for housing. Period. 

Furthermore, I end this with the chronic sewage spill catastrophes that keep occuring. You are all responsible for maintaining the safety of our county and have failed us for decades. None of you do the county any favors when it comes to public relations. Your focus should be on preserving existing nature because the future of our beaches does not bode hopeful. People will be coming in land to experience nature in the future. Wake up, climate change is real, red tide will continue to grow as will this flesh eating bacteria because these “natural occurring” dangerous issues thrive in warm waters  and are exacerbated by man. It is as if the county is giving a free lunch of poo flushes on a regular basis to these awful things that exist in the gulf, so please turn your attention to infrastructure and having the developers really kick in monetarily what is needed for all their new building sprawl. 

Mr. Hines, you all want to leave a legacy for Sarasota? Then please, help clean it up and make the developers build affordable housing in a place, other than the Quad parcel, where parents, children and the working class will be safe.
Respectfully,
Adrien Lucas

Friday, July 12, 2019

RAM Returns Oct. 12-13 - Great Volunteer Opportunity

To help make the October 12-13, 2019 RAM weekend at MTC a success, register at ramusa.org or, for more information, 
call 941-526-4766.




























Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Effects of degraded wastewater facilities in Sarasota


Over the past three years, the county’s utility has spilled more than 800-million gallons of wastewater into Cowpen Slough, Phillippi Creek, Roberts Bay and Sarasota Bay. The water comes from the county’s storage tank and storing pond adjacent to the Bee Ridge Reclamation Facility.

County officials admit they are aware of the discharges. They’ve known they needed to increase wastewater treatment capacity since 2013, but have failed to do so. They could face fines up to $55,000 per day. -- Fix Florida's Wastewater Infrastructure - Caroline Smith, guest column, Herald Tribune 

More on the overflows, spills, and failure of Sarasota's wastewater treatment facilities and on the science of Red Tide and blue-green algae here and here.

WGCU - the NPR station in Fort Myers - has a special report on possible connections between Blue-Green Algae and neurodegenerative disorders. Listen to the report here.

Nutrient pollution from agricultural and urban runoff, as well as from leaky septic tanks and sewer lines, causes the majority of freshwater cyanobacteria blooms, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. TBT

For an editorial on the systemic neglect of public infrastructure, go here.



Sarasota County Planning Commission

Board of Sarasota County Commissioners


Bee Ridge Wastewater Treatment Plant 


Sarasota wastewater treatment plant's nitrogen-rich overflow pond



Friday, July 5, 2019

Redistricting Questions still unanswered

Despite no legal requirement to do so, the Sarasota County Commissioners have been seriously considering performing a redistricting of their 5 districts in advance of the 2020 election. This has raised concern among advocates for Single District Voting -- a measure passed by voters of both parties in all districts last November. Seeing no reason to redistrict, some fear this will enable the Board to select its voters in order to help assure the reelection of its members running in 2020. Sarasota's Board has not had a non-Republican on it in 50 years.



Pat Rounds, a citizen advocate, has sought answers to certain questions raised by this potential maneuver - to no avail. Below is Rounds' email effort to get some answers to questions. 

To date, the exchange has been rather one-sided:



To the Sarasota County Commission and County Administrators: 

In May (as requested by the County Commission), County staff compiled and presented a comprehensive research report at a BoCC meeting assessing the potential need to redistrict before the 2020 Census. See attached (Redistricting--County Staff Research May 2019).  


This County staff report contains criteria identified by the Supreme Court to determine population differences which would justify a redistricting exercise. The Supreme Court stated that "generally the maximum population deviation between the largest and smallest district should be less than 10% to presumably comply with the one person, one vote rule."  Couple this formula with the ESRI/District population table currently posted on the County Commission page at scgov.net .  See attached.  The same ESRI GIS table (2018-2023) was recently sent to the County Commission by Jonathan Lewis, County Administrator. 


When applying the Supreme Court criteria to the ESRI-derived District population figures (below), the 10% maximum deviation threshold is not achieved. The population difference between the largest (D5) and smallest (D2) Districts is 7,610 people--under 10%.  No support for redistricting.
Dist 1-Moran   81,106
Dist 2-Ziegler   79,915
Dist 3-Detert    87,130
Dist 4-Maio      80,685
Dist 5-Hines      87,525
Apparently not satisfied with County research and findings, the Sarasota County Commission is moving forward anyway. The Commission is now searching for an outside expert to lead this exercise and achieve the desired outcome--But at what cost to taxpayers and voter trust? 
On repeated occasions, the County Commission has committed to conducting a public, transparent and inclusive process. Please demonstrate Sarasota County's commitment to full disclosure, and respond to the following public information requests: 
  • What is the timeline for this redistricting process?
  • What are the criteria for selecting an outside expert/s to facilitate this redistricting exercise?
    • Will a candidate/contractor search be conducted according to County guidelines? Please describe the recruitment and selection process. 
    • Has an expert been selected? If so, please identify your choice/s and the qualifications that justified the selection.
    • Outline the responsibilities of the outside expert/s  (e.g., process steps, methodology and disclosure of results).  
  • What is the cost of hiring an outside expert to conduct this research?
  • What data source/s will be used to determine the current county-wide and district-level population? How much will it cost to compile this data--- as Sarasota County has used ESRI in the past to calculate population estimates. 
  • Please outline the criteria used to determine accurate population figures. 
    • What methodology will be used?
    • What data sets will be compiled to assess current county-level population by District?
Thank you in advance for your timely response to this request.   
Pat Rounds
Sarasota, 34235
District One

===========

After receiving no response, Rounds submitted her questions to Donn S. Patchen, head of county communications, in June. She is still waiting for a complete response.

Mr. Patchen,

This information request was submitted ten days ago and should require little, if any research.  The original email is below this message. 

There has been no official acknowledgement of the initial request (including from the Commissioner for District One). Is this typical?  
The County Commission has committed to conducting a public, transparent and inclusive redistricting process. The information requested is pertinent to understanding how this exercise is being implemented. Please demonstrate Sarasota County's promise of full disclosure, and respond to the following public information requests: 
  • What is the timeline for this redistricting process?
  • What are the criteria for selecting an outside expert/s to facilitate this redistricting exercise?
    • Will a candidate/contractor search be conducted according to County guidelines? Please describe the recruitment and selection process. 
    • Has an expert been selected? If so, please identify your choice/s and the qualifications that justified the selection.
    • Outline the responsibilities of the outside expert/s  (e.g., process steps, methodology and disclosure of results).  
  • What is the cost of hiring an outside expert to conduct this research?
  • What data source/s will be used to determine the current county-wide and district-level population? How much will it cost to compile this data--- as Sarasota County has used ESRI in the past to calculate population estimates. 
  • Please outline the criteria used to determine accurate population figures. 
    • What methodology will be used?
    • What data sets will be compiled to assess current county-level population by District?
Thank you.
Pat Rounds
District One
Sarasota 34235

=========

July 5 Discussion

TUNE IN Friday, July 5, 6:00 PM to http://kdwradio.com 
Listen online or on the air at WKDW 97.5 FM radio for a hard-hitting program with North Port City Commissioner Jill Luke and Gabriel Hament on the proposed 2019 Sarasota County redistricting—and more!