Vol. 14 No. 52 - October 22, 2014
tOM VAUGHT | SUN
Matthew Levey, Alexa Berk and Nick Hummel wore crab claw
headgear as they served crab rolls from Lobstah’s, in
Holmes Beach. This was Lobstah’s first year at Bayfest.
ANNA MARIA – Island residents and visitors from several counties came out in droves to celebrate cooler weather and the beauty of the Island at Bayfest, sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.
A huge crowd filled the six lots at North Bay Boulevard and Pine Avenue for food, drinks, shopping and music on Friday night. KoKo Ray and the Keepers started things off with a variety of sounds while vendors served everything from barbecue to crab rolls, pizza, fish tacos and more.
The weather was great after a cool front moved in, and Uncle John’s Band had the crowd rocking until 10 p.m.
On Saturday, 106 antique, classic and modified cars and trucks signed up for the auto show, organized by Bill Mergens. Men and women of all ages admired the work that went into restoring some of the vehicles, while many people found a favorite vehicle like one they drove years earlier.
Kids played in bounce houses and on other rides in the kid’s area. Roser Memorial Community Church also had fun games for the kids plus free water for people and their pets. The cooler temperatures made suntan lotion a larger priority than hydration, for some.
According Chamber Vice President Deb Wing, the arts and crafts vendors reported doing well, and there was a good turnout.
“We haven’t finished counting proceeds, but it looks like this could be one of the three best ever,” Wing said.
On Saturday, Can’t Turn Left started the music in the morning followed by soulRcoaster, Scott’s Garage, Kettle of Fish and the resurrection performance of Dr. Dave and his band.
“It felt really great to get out there,” Dave Ferguson said Monday. “The crowd fed on our energy, and that gave us more energy.
“We played up until 10 p.m., and people wanted encores, but the noise ordinance says music off at 10,” he added. “When I pulled my fiddle out of its case, that was the first time I’d held it since I retired two years ago.”
When asked if he would play again next year, Ferguson said, “Sure, if I’m asked.”
Bayfest’s 14-year run has drawn people in from all around the area and more.
“We own a home in Anna Maria that we rent out,” said Deannis Hottel, who was dancing with her partner, Terex Colling, who hail from Virginia. “We called our rental agent told him to book us for now so we could come to Bayfest.”
Forfeiture resolution ironed out
BRADENTON BEACH – The city’s new forfeiture of office resolution has been reviewed and revised and will be presented for final adoption during a special commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 10 a.m.
The resolution will serve as the commission’s procedural guide for the forfeiture of office proceedings recently initiated against Mayor Bill Shearon. The document would also provide the framework for future forfeiture proceedings, should the need arise.
During last week’s commission meeting, City Attorney Ricinda Perry led the commission through a point-by-point review of the resolution first proposed at a special meeting that took place on Oct. 6.
Last week’s discussion gave commissioners a final chance to review the resolution created by Perry and to incorporate any language from the alternative ordinance Shearon presented at the previous meeting. That ordinance was rejected by the commission.
Through a series of 3-2 and 4-1 votes, the commission declined to add ordinance language to the resolution.
In doing so, commissioners determined that Shearon would bear the cost of his own legal fees, but could recoup a reasonable portion of those fees from the city if he successfully defends his position.
The commission modified the resolution in a manner that allows any of the four presiding commissioners, Shearon excluded, to request a legal opinion from the city’s contracted special master, attorney William Robinson Jr., or an outside legal expert who is not currently employed by the city.
This revision was based on public input provided by Shearon supporter John Metz, a retired attorney, who suggested that the special master be asked to determine if there was probable cause to proceed with the forfeiture efforts.
“I would certainly like to have a legal opinion,” Commissioner Janie Robertson said, of Metz’s suggestion.
Commissioner Ed Straight also expressed some support for the idea.
After much discussion, the commission majority decided the special master would not be asked to determine probable cause, but he and others could be called upon to offer non-biased legal advice at the city’s expense.
Super majority required
The commission also agreed that it would take a 4-1 super-majority vote to suspend an elected official, and none of the commissioners suggested Shearon be suspended.
Once the forfeiture resolution is adopted, the commission must produce a list of specific, non-criminal charges against Shearon. The commission must also determine who will chair the forfeiture hearings and how the evidence will be gathered, presented and disseminated.
The forfeiture hearing or hearings will resemble a court case and allow for public input, opening and closing statements, witness testimony and cross-examination, the presentation of records, exhibits and written statements, as well as commission discussion and debate.
Shearon will assume the role of the defendant and will not chair the forfeiture hearings or participate in forfeiture-related commission decisions. He will, however, continue to preside over all other regular and special commission meetings and discussions. He will also continue to serve as the city’s top administrator as forfeiture proceedings play out.
In the end, Vice Mayor Jack Clarke and Commissioners Jan Vosburgh, Robertson and Straight will decide, by majority vote, whether Shearon serves out the remainder of his inaugural two-year term.
If the commission votes in favor of forfeiture, Shearon will have the right to appeal the decision.
HOLMES BEACH – Local musician Howie Banfield protested the city commission’s ban on music in the city field on Sundays.
Banfield, who is in charge of music for the AMI Art League’s annual Winterfest and Springfest, said, “It’s a troubadour style of music on Sunday. Unamplified, so Winterfest and Springfest can have some entertainment. It’s people strolling around the grounds playing music, not performing.”
The issue came about in the spring when commissioners considered limiting events in the field due to complaints about too many festivals. In May they agreed on two events per month of one or two days with any one group allowed a maximum of three events per year, with no music allowed on Sundays.
However, the ordinance did not come back to the commission for final approval until August and did not come to the attention of festival promoters until a festival planned for November recently was denied music on Sunday.
“It’s a day of peace for the people on Flotilla because our city park was getting rented every weekend,” Chair Judy Titsworth explained. “It was staged, amplified music.”
However, Commissioner Jean Pellen pointed out that the ordinance states, “The use of loud speakers, amplification, musical performances and the like shall be prohibited on the city field on Sundays.”
“Legally, a strolling troubadour is a musical performance,” Peelen said.
City Attorney Patricia Petruff agreed and added, “One can only surmise that a strolling troubadour is playing music for the enjoyment of others as well as himself. From that angle, it’s legitimate interpretation to say if you are in public at an event playing music, it is a musical performance.”
Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the city commission could make exceptions, but Titsworth objected, “We can’t start picking who can break the rules. I believe we have to follow them. If one of us wants to relook at the ordinance, that could happen.”
Petruff said they could define musical performance, and Titsworth said she would put the issue on a work session for further discussion.
Whitmore, Wonder debate Oct. 28
The 2014 Environmental Summit will feature a candidate debate between incumbent commissioner Carol Whitmore and challenger Terri Wonder for the at-large Manatee County commissioner position on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m. at Palma Sola Botanical Park, 9800 17th Ave. N.W, in Bradenton.
The candidates will respond to questions on environmental and growth management issues posed by the Manatee Fish and Game Association.
The summit also will feature a discussion of the Water and Land Conservation Initiative - Constitutional Amendment 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot, which, if passed, will dedicate 33 percent of net revenues from the excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Christine Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, will speak in favor of the initiative, and Dr. Frank Alcock, associate professor of political science and environmental studies at New College of Florida, will play a devil’s advocate role, posing arguments contrary to the amendment.
The event is co-sponsored by Manatee Fish and Game Association Inc. and Manatee/Sarasota Sierra Club.
The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a potluck supper; the host organizations will provide meat, drinks and tableware. Please bring a side dish to share. Make your reservation by calling 941-792-8314.
Three seek commission seats...
HOLMES BEACH – Two incumbents – Commissioners Judy Titsworth and Marvin Grossman - are being challenged for their seats by Andy Sheridan. The two with the highest number of votes in the Nov. 4 election will take the two-year seats.
Two candidates also are vying for mayor – Commissioner David Zaccagnino and resident Bob Johnson. The highest vote-getter will win, and the commission will appoint someone to fill the remainder of Zaccagnino’s commission
Judy Holmes Titsworth was born and raised on the Island and is the third generation of the family for which the city was named. She and her husband, Steve, own Shoreline Builders, located in the city.
Titsworth ran for city commission two years ago “on a platform of fighting for balance and compliance. My goal was for the enforcement and compliance of the land development code and its correct interpretation to address setbacks and buffering to protect residents from increased noise due to resort housing, enforce required on site parking and put and end to open-ended site plans.”
She said accomplishments during her term include implementing a living area ratio, eliminating the common foundation for duplexes, successfully negotiating with Mainsail developers and improving and revising ordinances on noise, parking requirements for outdoor dining and use of city field.
“Some of the big things facing us now are congestion, parking and sign clutter. If paid parking becomes a reality, all the shop owners will have to have tow away zones to protect their parking.
“I’m against paid parking at the public beach because I don’t want to commercialize our beach. They (paid parking advocates) are looking at the beach as a money maker.”
She said she is undecided about the congestion committee’s proposal to eliminate street and right of way parking in residential areas and said, “I would like to see how it works in other communities.”
Other challenges include receiving “our fair share of tourist tax dollars” and attracting and keeping residents.
“What bothers me is people who move here and want to make changes without knowing the heartbeat of the Island,” she pointed out. “My hope is that I can continue to be the voice of the residents and once again make our city a great place to visit, but even a better place to live.”
Commissioner Marvin Grossman is a retired educator with a bachelor’s degree in art and a master’s degree in education. He and his wife, Jane, came to the Island 20 years ago on vacation, fell in love and bought a condo and retired here.
Prior to his two years on the commission, he served on the city’s code enforcement board.
Grossman said accomplishments of the commission during his term include addressing issues such as establishing market value for rehabilitation and a living area ratio, eliminating the common foundation for duplexes, successfully negotiating with Mainsail developers, approving ordinances on outdoor dining and amplified music, noise and events in the city field.
“We just got started protecting our Old Florida lifestyle,” he said. “I believe that we have been given a sacred obligation to work together to save our fragile barrier island for future generations to enjoy.”
Grossman said his goals in the next two years include encouraging community participation in the government and developing safe bicycle paths in the city. He believes in “strong code enforcement, but done systematically and intelligently to help the lifestyle of our residents.”
He said he would continue to seek a share of the tourist tax dollars “because I want to stand up and ask for the things that the Island deserves.”
He also plans to continue addressing the issue of congestion, especially at the county level, and pointed out, “The county is approving tens of thousands of new houses without requiring infrastructure. As city commissioners we can reduce the size of house in our city, but that doesn’t compare to the impact a thousand houses will have on us.”
He said he will continue to be a full time city commissioner and noted, ‘In whatever I do, I put my whole effort into it.”
Andy Sheridan and his wife, Lisa have visited the Island since 1996 and became full time residents in 2003. He attended Gettysburg College and has a business background including bank management, sales and transportation management.
Sheridan currently is a trolley driver on the Island. He is vice president of the Key Royale Resident Owner’s Association and chair of the city’s code enforcement board.
“I became involved seven years ago over quality of life concerns and continued attending city meetings thereafter, participating and speaking up on issues,” he said. “I work well with others, investigate problems to identify solutions and appreciate that very little get done alone.”
He said one important issue is protecting the quality of life and insuring the safety and security for residents and visitors.
“I have advocated for many years that code enforcement needs to be more responsive on weekends and evenings, and staffing should be adjusted to be more responsive to citizens complaints regarding quality of life issues including noise, trash, parking turtle lighting and abandoned distressed or bank-owned properties.”
Sheridan advocates fiscal responsibility and said, “Although the city’s budget has increased by 16.5 percent in the last two years, tax rates haven’t been cut since 2008. City officials and department heads clearly think we have bottomless wallets. Each department budget merits line-byline scrutiny and justification. Help me stop runaway spending.”
He said in other counties, a portion of tourism tax dollars are used to “help alleviated the problems tourism brings. But here, hour property tax dollars pay for virtually 100 percent of tourism’s impact.
“If Manatee County followed these other counties’ examples, in just the next 12 months about $2 million could be used to help our city and others similarly affected better cope with the impact of tourism. Holmes Beach officials must bring home the TDC bacon.”
.... two seek mayor’s seat
David Zaccagnino grew up in Tampa, but has been coming to the Island since he was 10 years old. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in business management from Florida State. He is a financial advisor with Ameriprise.
He has spent nine years as a commissioner and said, “Many people were concerned and asked me to step up and run for mayor because the inexperience of the last mayor caused a lot of problems for the city.”
Zaccagnino said his accomplishments while serving on the commission were inventing and passing the living area ratio, creating the dog park, annexing Kingfish ramp and receiving grants of $350,000 for sidewalks and $20,000 for trees.
He said he plans to change the city’s budget process and said, “The budget process is flawed. I would make every department head come to the work session with the city commission and the public to argue what their want and defend their department budget.
“Every year I’ve argued to go to the rollback rate except this year because our spending is out of control. Last year were $600,000 over and this year it’s $500,000. An inexperienced mayor can do a lot of damage in two years.”
He said over the years he has developed hundreds of contacts in the county and state governments that can help the city with various issues.
“You need to have close communication,” he stressed. “You can’t live in a bubble. You need to know where to get help.”
He said balance between residents and business is important and noted, “We can’t be so Draconian in our laws. A lot can be dealt with by the administration through code enforcement and laws on the books.
“I think experience matters and I have that with the budget, the employees and city history.”
Bob Johnson was a West Point graduate and served in the U.S. Army for 21 years including two tours of Vietnam. After leaving the Army, he began a civilian career in information technology.
He and his wife, Denise, moved to the Island 20 years ago. He got involved in city government when he joined the Congestion Committee and then became chair of the Charter Review Commission.
Johnson said he decided to run for mayor because “I know how to run organizations. I have the skills I think are right to finish getting good structure in the city. You need experienced thoughtful management, not political posturing.
“If you stop and listen to people, there’s more common ground than not, and you should be seeking that, not building conflict. I believe in representative democracy. There needs to be more public input.”
He said he city should be proactive instead of reactive and noted, “There’s a cooperative role played by the administration in supporting the city commission in examining issues, alternatives and options.”
Johnson said the budget process was “totally backwards in the way it was done. First decide what to accomplish and what are the priorities. Then decide where we need to be this year, what does that add up to, can we afford it and if not, what can we afford.”
He said there has not been enough serious consideration given to the impact of the increase in tourism fueled by the state and county’s promotional campaigns and “the county’s plans for significant residential development in the coastal zone without consideration for the infrastructure.
“The Island is the only beach in town, and we island communities have been expected to simply accommodate all comers,” he stressed. “We cannot continue down this path. I will seek, propose and push for innovative and effective change.”
Tickets are going fast for the Anna Maria Island Privateers Second Annual Day of the Dead Invasion Ball at the American Legion Kirby Post 24, at 2000 75th St W, Bradenton, on Saturday, Oct. 25, starting at 6 p.m. for cocktail hour, with dinner and dancing at 7 p.m. For $40 per person, you get a buffet dinner, dancing and entertainment and a 2014 Invasion Ball keepsake.
Attendees can upgrade to the reserved Captain’s Table for six for $290, which includes dinner, dancing and entertainment plus prime seating with first buffet service, a specially decorated VIP Table, a 2014 Invasion Ball keepsake, six draft beer tickets, a personalized souvenir table sign and an additional gift for each guest.
Pirate costume prizes will be awarded in several categories. You can also schedule an appointment for Day of the Dead face painting at extra cost.
The Privateers will fight to defend the Island from other pirate crews a week later starting at Pine Avenue in Anna Maria and ending at Coquina Beach. It’s the Second Annual Anna Maria Island Privateers Pirate Invasion and Festival on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Coquina Beach. Enjoy live music as you shop from a wide variety of vendors. Kids will have their own area with a pirate ship to climb on and explore, story telling and games.
The music starts Saturday with Kettle of Fish, followed by Kei Bland and Savannah Brady and it ends with Kettle of Fish. There will be a Sunday morning service at 9:30 a.m. with live music and choir, followed by the Savannah Brady Band, The Mangled Tangos and Kim Betts and The Gamble Creek Band. Roving minstrels will circulate to entertain and amaze. Have a picture with a pirate or wench, maybe both.
There will be beverages for young and old, some great food vendors, and craft vendors especially selected for this event.
Get all the information on the Pirate Invasion and Day of the Dead Ball tickets at www.amiprivateers.org, or call Bob Dominas at 941-527-6171.
Mayor advocates paid parking at public beach
HOLMES BEACH – Once again, Mayor Carmel Monti told city commissioners they should institute paid parking at the Manatee Public Beach.
“I think we’re absolutely stupid not to address it,” he stressed. “The elephant is in the room. We could generate about $1 million a year.
“We would have to have an interlocal agreement with the county because it is the county’s property, but I’m willing to orchestrate that.”
He said it could pay for stormwater improvements, beautification projects and the like for the Island.
“All this revenue would be on the backs of the tourists, not the citizens,” he continued. “I don’t think it would have any impact on the tourists, and I’m also for charging a toll for the trolley.”
According to recent figures from the Manatee County Public Works Department, so far in 2014 there have been 522,958 trolley riders. The cost to the county was $512,488 with other funding coming from a Florida Deparment of Transportation grant and donations from the Island cities.
“Whatever money they spent is coming out of everybody’s pocket, and we’re spending $750,000 that we don’t need to spend,” Monti said. “What’s wrong with charging a quarter? Why does everything have to be free?”
Commissioner David Zaccagnino said people taking the time to pay would slow down the trolley and increase congestion, but added, “If we could pound out an agreement with the county for paid parking at the public beach and get some revenue, that would be great.”
Chair Judy Titsworth said they should put the issue on a work session after the election.
Commissioner Marvin Grossman told commissioners that he plans to advocate for the city to receive one cent of the 5-cent tourist tax from the county to pay for extra policing and other projects. He said it could generate $125,000 per year for the city.