From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
May 4, 2018
The 15th annual Embracing Our Differences art exhibit is now on display at Bayfront Park. The juried, acclaimed international exhibit features 45 billboard-sized images and quotes with themes of diversity and inclusion that were created by local, national and international artists. The local nonprofit Embracing Our Differences received more than 8,000 entries from 98 countries this year. The group also hosts thousands of Sarasota County students on field trips to the exhibit, which stimulates thousands of meaningful conversations.  The exhibit will be on display until June 1st.  For more information, visit


  • City Commission
    Mon., May 7 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers

  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., May 8 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Historic Preservation Board
    Tues., May 8  - 3 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers

  • Joint Workshop:  City Commission & Sarasota County School Board
    Tues., May 8 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Public Art Committee
    Wed, May 9 - 1 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Combined Police Complaint Committee & Independent Police Advisory Panel Workshop
    Wed., May 9 - 1 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Planning Board
    Wed., May 9 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission Budget Workshop
    Thurs., May 10 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Planet Heroes
As our community and the planet step up our collective efforts to combat sea level rise, it was a special pleasure to visit the home of James and Barbara Reno this week.

Although they live just outside of the city, Jim and Barbara's home is the first in the area that we are aware of that has installed rooftop solar panels in conjunction with Tesla energy storage Powerwall batteries.  So far, this combination designed to capture Florida's abundant solar energy is powering the home day and night.  This technology has resulted in the home sending more power back to the grid most weeks than they use running their air conditioned home.

With Bill Johnson and Jim and Barbara Reno
It was shortly after Hurricane Irma that the Renos decided to install the system through Bill Johnson's local company Brilliant Harvest.  Brilliant Harvest is only the third company in Florida licensed to install this new era Tesla energy storage equipment. 
To the Renos, the solar panels and batteries not only make their home and lifestyle nearly carbon free (they also drive an electric car), they are protected against power outages, including power interruptions from hurricanes and storm damage that take down the grid.  The system requires little maintenance, is guaranteed for decades and is quiet, clean and highly reliable.

I would like to thank the Renos and Brilliant Harvest for pioneering this technology in our region and for welcoming our staff and electrical inspectors to visit their new innovative energy system, which just about takes them off the grid.

For that reason they are my Planet Heroes for the Month of May! Thank you, Barb and Jim, for the help to minimize future sea level rise. 

Media Alert:  "Black Almanac"
With the recent passing of Dr. Ed James, host of ABC 7's "Black Almanac," it was assumed the long-running public affairs program would continue. There is concern now that it may be discontinued. 

An important mainstay in Sarasota for the past 46 years, "Black Almanac" is considered one of the longest-airing locally produced public affairs programs in the southeast.  Over the decades, it has become vitally important to the community.

You can provide input to ABC 7 about the future of "Black Almanac" by submitting an online comment   here.

City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Administrative Specialist III - Community Development
Landscape Maintenance Tech I
Landscape Maintenance Tech II
Maintenance Technician - SPD
Marketing Coordinator - Van Wezel
Parks Service Worker - Part-time
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant/RLTCC
RLTCC Lifeguards
     Volunteer/Unpaid Intern  
Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator  

This Week's Items to Know:

Parking - New EV    City staff is continually seeking opportunities to lower the City's carbon footprint and use renewable energy when feasible.  So, when the Parking Operations Division was considering a new parking enforcement scooter, an electric vehicle was researched and ultimately added to the Parking fleet.

The vehicle is well built and safe.  And, with a fully charged lithium
This parking enforcement vehicle is 100% electric. 
battery, it can be used for an 8-hour shift driving around the city without any problems.  Then, it's plugged in at the Whole Foods Garage and charged overnight.

In addition, three other small EVs are part of the City's vehicle fleet: two in the Utilities Department and one in Parks & Rec. 

Also, all 124 riding carts at Bobby Jones Golf Club are electric.

We're moving in a positive direction and hope to carry the momentum forward as we focus on the City's Ready for 100 commitment to use 100% renewable energy with City operations by 2030. 

Compost Awareness Week:  May 6-12    As part of International Compost Awareness Week, we're pleased to announce three restaurants in the city limits will participate in a pilot program next week to compost pre-meal kitchen scraps. 
The City's Sustainability team has worked with the TableSeide Group supplying large buckets to store the scraps and also providing education on what can and can't be composted. 

We're excited to add this commercial component to the City's compost pilot program, since restaurants dispose of so many food scraps.  Instead of going into the landfill, those scraps will be taken to
The City is providing 5-gallon buckets to the participating restaurants and training kitchen staff on how to compost. 
One Stop Landscape and Supply, which ultimately will turn the food bits into rich soil.

It's estimated that each of the three participating restaurants could fill as many as eight 5-gallon pails during the week.  That's a lot of material to divert from the landfill!

The participating restaurants are:

Meanwhile, a Compost-A-Thon will take place next week with residents in the Sarasota-Manatee region.  The program maxed out with 100 participants, who will learn how to compost.  Then, they'll save their kitchen scraps throughout the week and take them to a designated composting earth bin, where the materials will decompose into fresh, healthy soil.


The Compost-A-Thon is being coordinated by Tracie Troxler with Sunshine Community Compost, a nonprofit organization, with support from the City.  We appreciate everyone's involvement!  We'll gauge interest and see where it leads. 


Flood Awareness Week:   April 30 - May 4   Throughout the week, we marked Flood Awareness Week by sharing important information and useful tips for the community.  As we head into the rainy season in Florida, we want to remind you that almost all areas throughout the Sarasota region are potentially prone to some amount of flooding from tidal influences and/or heavy rains.  You can determine your flood risk by visiting Sarasota County's interactive flood zone webpage.

It's important to keep in mind that flood insurance is available to all whether you rent, own, or have a business or residence.  But, flood insurance is in addition to your property insurance policy.  And your premiums will be based on your flood risk.

A critical point that can't be emphasized enough is to be cautious when driving near flooded streets.  The best advice from the National Weather Service is "Turn around, don't drown."

Flood awareness public service announcement from the National Weather Service. 

Thanks to the City's Emergency Manager, Todd Kerkering, and our partners with the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center and Stormwater Division for highlighting the dangers of flooding and the importance of being prepared and always having an emergency flood plan in place.  
Mental Health Awareness Month   With approximately 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in the U.S. living with a serious mental illness, mental health is a serious matter throughout our country. We know that mental illness is closely connected with the chronically homeless.  Yet, understanding of these conditions, and full state and federal funding for treatment and housing remains elusive.

During the month of May, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Sarasota will highlight the need to reduce mental illness stigmas and help build a more understanding community.

It may be surprising to hear that 75% of all lifetime mental health conditions start by the age of 24.  But, early intervention can help individuals and their families.   That's one reason why education is critical.

We applaud NAMI Sarasota's efforts to work with local elected officials and agencies to promote recovery and treatment.  To learn more visit 
Finance - FGFOA Board of Directors   Congratulations to our Finance Director, Kelly Strickland, who was elected to the Board of Directors for the Florida Government Finance Officers Association!
Finance Director Kelly Strickland was elected to the FGFOA Board of Directors. 

Kelly was selected to serve a 3-year term for this professional organization, which serves nearly 3,000 individuals who are involved with finance with municipal, county, state and other government agencies. 

City staff is in the midst of assembling a proposed budget to present to the City Commission during upcoming workshops.  It's a complex, time-consuming endeavor, and Kelly's interest to serve on the FGFOA Board of Directors at this time says much about her commitment to government finance and sharing her professional insights with her peers. 

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through December 2018.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit    

Friday Fest - Jah Movement 
Friday, June 22:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
FREE Concert

Reverend Barry & The Funk 
Friday, July 27:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 

Rebel Heart 
Friday, August 17:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
Friday Fest, our free concert series on the lawn of the Van Wezel, will be held monthly June through September. 

Dr. Dave Band 
Friday, September 14:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Doo Wop Spectacular 
Sat., November 10 - 7:30 p.m.
The King and I
Tues., December 4 - 8 p.m.
Wed., December 5 - 8 p.m.

Brian Wilson Presents:  The Christmas Album Live 
Tues., December 11 - 8 p.m.

Celtic Thunder X 
Tues., December 18 - 8 p.m.

The Sound of Music 
Wed., December 19 - 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., December 20 - 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker 
Fri., December 21 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

On Your Feet 
Wed., December 26 - 7:30 p.m.
On Your Feet will be at the Van Wezel Dec. 26-29.

Thurs., December 27 - 7:30 p.m.
Fri., December 28 - 7:30 p.m.
Sat., December 29 - 7:30 p.m.

The Sweet Caroline Tour 
Mon., December 31 - 9 p.m.

To purchase tickets over the phone call 941-953-3368 or stop by the Box Office at 777 N.Tamiami Trail.   
For a complete schedule of events, visit

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Tom Barwin
City Manager