The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 15 No. 52 - October 28, 2015


A Howling Good Time

Carol Whitmore

Final Results

Celebrity category

First - Digby, as the Pope

Second - Barney & Gracie as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Third - Chi Chi as Supergirl

Cutest category

First - Rousseau as a Pinata

Second - Abby as a bummblebee

Third - Falcon as a werewolf puppy

Most Original category

First - Biscuit, Muffin & Devo as R2D2, Bark Vader and C-3PO

Second - Tucker & Frankie as an inmate and SWAT team member

Third - Rooney as an Irish guard

Supergirl flew in for The Sun’s 13th Annual Canine Halloween Costume Contest on Saturday and took home trophies for their efforts.

Campaigns in stretch run

ANNA MARIA – The race for three Anna Maria City Commission seats has entered its final week.

The race features incumbent Commissioners Carol Carter, Doug Copeland and Dale Woodland and first-time challengers John Damato and Penny Naylor.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the three winners will be known shortly after the polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Once sworn in, the winners will serve two-year terms.

Election numbers

Those who vote in person on Tuesday will do so in the Fellowship Hall at Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave. The city’s only polling location opens at 7 a.m.

According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections’ Website, there are 1,189 registered and active voters in the city. Deputy Chief Sharon Stief said Friday afternoon that the elections office mailed out 327 vote by mail ballots to Anna Maria voters. As of Friday, 137 had been returned as ballots cast.

Vote by mail ballots can be returned to the Supervisor of Elections office in Bradenton until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Folks who fail to return their mail ballots in time can surrender them to Roser poll workers in order to vote in person.

Donor contributions

Damato leads all candidates in terms campaign fund raising. According to his Oct. 16 campaign treasurer’s report, the first-time candidate has raised $5,927, with an additional $425 worth of in-kind donations for campaign banners provided by West Coast Graphics in St. Petersburg.

Anna Maria residents and/or post office box holders who contributed include Michael Thrasher, $852; Jack Hineline, $500; Kenneth Jackson, $250; L. Martin Hubri, $200; and planning board member David Youngs, $75. Damato loaned his own campaign $500.

In-state donors include Tampa resident Marci Wilhelm, $1,000; Belleview resident Kathryn Gallager, $1,000; Weirsdale P.O. box holder William Townley, $500; and Weirsville P.O. box holder, Nedra Townley, $500.

Out of state contributions were received from Maryland’s George Broadbin, $300; and Tennessee’s Jay Myers, $150.

Damato, a former Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy and current Sato Real Estate sales agent, reports $2,632 in campaign expenditures for campaign signs, banners, T-shirts, can cozies, campaign literature and postal expenses.

Seeking her second term in office, Carter, a semi-retired professional fund-raiser, has raised $3,550 according to her Oct. 16 report.

Anna Maria residents and/or P.O. box holders who contributed include her husband Bob, $400; Lizzie Vann, $1,000; Agnes Coppin, $100; Christopher Collins, $100; Janet Aubrey, $100; Richard York, $100; Norman Mansour, $100; George Talbot, $50; and Patricia Zigulich, $50. Carter also contributed $400 to her campaign.

Additional local donors include Holmes Beach resident Renee Ferguson, $50; Cortez resident Gerald Salvin, $100; Bradenton resident Janice Teeter, $500; and Lakewood Ranch residents Lynne Rubino, $150; and George Rubino, $250.

Carter’s lone out of state contribution came courtesy of Paul Zurawski, from Atlanta, $100.

Her $2,386 in listed expenditures include campaign signs and literature, labels and postage.

No outside funds

Naylor, a writer, artist and former creative marketing director, is financing her own campaign; and according to her Oct. 23 report she has contributed $3,330. The first-time candidate has spent $2,701 on newspaper ads, graphic design services, campaign materials, mailing labels, envelopes and stamps.

Seeking a seventh two-year term, Woodland is also self-financing his campaign. The Woodland’s Quality Pool Care owner’s only campaign expenditure is the $48 qualifying fee, and he is using campaign signs from a previous campaign.

Copeland is seeking his second elected term in office. The self-employed cabinet maker has spent no money on his campaign. He feels money corrupts the campaign and political processes, and he stated as much during last week’s commission meeting when discussing a citizen’s efforts to repeal the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Local election results are typically posted at within an hour or so of the polls closing and will also be posted at

Two commission seats in play

BRADENTON BEACH – The Bradenton Beach City Commission races have entered the home stretch.

During the municipal elections that conclude at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, city voters will determine the winners of the mayor’s race and the Ward 3 commissioner’s race.

The mayor’s race pits Mayor Jack Clarke versus former Mayor Bill Shearon in a rematch of the May recall election race that resulted in Shearon being removed from office and replaced by Clarke.

The Ward 3 race sees incumbent Commissioner Janie Robertson seeking a fifth term in office, facing a challenge from Coastal Watersports owner Ralph Cole, whose father, Gail Cole, served as a mayor and commissioner in the 1990s.

Jake Spooner is running unopposed in Ward 1.

Those who vote in person on Nov. 3, will vote at the Bradenton Beach Fire Hall, 201 Second Street, which is now the city’s lone polling location. The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

The winners will be sworn in on Monday, Nov. 16, at which time their two-year terms will commence.

Ballots in the mail

According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Website, there are currently 751 active city voters registered to vote in this election. In May, 358 ballots were cast in the recall election and 138 or 44 percent of those were cast by mail.

According to Sharon Stief, the elections office sent out 209 mail ballots for the current election. As of Friday, 88 had been returned as ballots cast.

Mail ballots can be delivered to the Supervisor of Elections office in Bradenton until 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Those who fail to return their mail ballots on time can surrender them at the fire hall in exchange for the right to vote in person.

Fund-raising races

Clarke led all candidates in fund raising. According to his Oct. 23 campaign treasurer’s report, he has raised $5,958. Recent contributions came from Jake Spooner’s Fish Hole and Bridge Street Bazaar at $500 each, Sherman Baldwin’s Tevatan LLC at $200 and a $200 contribution from Tom Nammacher. A significant portion of Clarke’s contributions came from the business community, and he contributed $450 to his own campaign

Clarke’s $3,513 in campaign expenditures include newspaper advertising, campaign signs, coffee mugs, campaign literature, postal supplies and postage.

According to his Oct. 16 report, Shearon raised $2,088, half of which he contributed himself. His lone reported financial contribution is the $1,000 received from Bradenton Beach resident Marie Pracht. Shearon’s partner Tjet Martin provided an additional $221 in-kind contribution of postage stamps.

Shearon’s $1,182 in listed expenditures include newspaper advertising and the distribution of a self-produced campaign letter. Shearon is using his recall election campaign signs, but in order to comply with election law a sticker was placed over the first two letters of the word “re-elect” in order to read “elect.” Because Shearon is not running as the incumbent, he cannot advertise that he is seeking re-election. There were a couple reports of Shearon signs spotted that said re-elect, but these were the exception and not the majority.

Robertson contributed $348 to her own campaign, and according to her Oct. 16 report, had not accepted any other contributions. Her listed campaign expenditures are the $48 qualifying fee and $265 spent on postage supplies for a self-produced campaign letter. Robertson did not purchase or display campaign signs.

Cole’s Oct. 16 report lists $3,300 raised, including a $500 contribution from his father. Other major contributors included Angela and Barbara Rodocker’s BridgeWalk and Silver Surf resorts, with smaller contributions from former Mayor Katie Pierola, general contractor Chris McNamara, Bradenton resident Sandra Freeman and Pennsylvania resident Christine Johnson.

Cole’s $2,646 in expenditures include newspaper advertising, campaign signs and literature, postage and mailing supplies.

Vacation rental case continues

Media pool photo | submitted

Left to right, City Attorney Becky Vose, attorney Wade Vose
and Mayor Dan Murphy, represented the city at the Oct. 21
vacation rental ordinance hearing.


ANNA MARIA – Circuit Court Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. has ordered the city of Anna Maria and the plaintiffs in a vacation rental ordinance lawsuit to mediation in an attempt to resolve their differences.

Both parties agreed to the mediation during a three-hour hearing that took place at the Manatee County Judicial Center on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The hearing resulted in Mayor Dan Murphy agreeing to delay the vacation rental license application process that included a Friday, Nov. 6, application deadline for vacation rentals located on 12 city streets, with additional street-specific deadlines scheduled through Dec. 11.

The judge also denied City Attorney Becky Vose’s requests to have the first three counts of the plaintiff’s lawsuit dismissed.

Vose was assisted by her son and fellow attorney Wade Vose, and joined at the defendant’s table by Murphy.

Attorneys Kevin Hennessey and Jennifer Cowen represented the lawsuit’s multiple plaintiffs, which include Island Real Estate owner Larry Chatt, the Anna Maria Island Vacation Property Association and several others.

Mediation ordered

According to Smith’s written order, the two parties have 20 days to agree on a mediator, and 10 days after that to set a mediation conference date. The mediator will submit a written report to Smith and the city and the plaintiffs will split the cost of the mediator’s services.

Smith said mediation may not resolve all the plaintiffs’ points of contention, but may reduce the number of issues he is asked to rule on when the case goes to trial. He encouraged the parties to work out their differences and suggested both sides may be displeased with his final ruling if this goes to trial.

In September, Smith set aside two days in November for a non-jury trial, but said the trial could be pushed back to a date-certain period in January if any of his November jury trials, which take precedence, take longer than expected.

After listening to lengthy arguments presented by Vose last week, Smith suggested a trial might take four days instead of two, but the two days in November remain an option.

Applications on hold

Last week’s hearing was scheduled in part to clarify the scope of a temporary injunction granted to the plaintiffs in July, which the city opposes and wishes to have dissolved.

Smith issued no formal ruling on the injunction, but said a hearing to determine its scope could be scheduled if needed. It was during this discussion that Smith asked Vose if the city would delay the permitting process, which Murphy agreed to.

The temporary injunction order issued by Judge John Lakin in July states the injunction maintains the status quo until a full and fair hearing before the court.

The plaintiff’s injunction request was based on the grounds that the original ordinance adopted in April was not reviewed by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, and the ordinance resulted in unconstitutional impairment of preexisting vacation rental contracts, some of which pertain to reservations made a year or more in advance.

“We do not see eye-to-eye on what the injunction means,” Vose said.

She contends the injunction is no longer applicable because the preexisting contract provision was removed when the ordinance was amended in September and the amended ordinance was reviewed by the planning board prior to its adoption.

Hennessy contends the injunction still applies to the entire ordinance and prohibits it from being implemented until a full hearing takes place. Citing transcripts from the July injunction hearing, he said Vose agreed to maintain the status quo.

Smith said if the injunction had been issued by him it would have been more specific. He also stated his opinion that injunctions typically apply to the challenged legislation or action in its entirety.

Changes and costs

During the hearing, Vose suggested the commission may further amend the ordinance, and five days prior to the hearing she filed a motion to sever several portions of the recently adopted ordinance.

Vose told Smith she wants to remove language inadvertently left in the amended ordinance and additional language she feels is no longer needed to enforce the new regulations.

Smith said the city needs to stop changing the ordinance at some point so a trial can be held on the ordinance as written. Additional commission amendments could delay the trial, whereas changes made through mediation or a motion to sever would less likely impact the trial date.

As he left the courthouse, Chatt was asked how much the plaintiffs have spent challenging the ordinance.

“We have easily spent more than $100,000,” he said.

Board ponders pair of parking plans

HOLMES BEACH – With two new parking plans in front of them, City Commissioners agreed that the presenters should meet with Island Congestion Committee members to discuss how they could fit with the committee’s parking plan.

Human Services Analyst Mary Buonagura presented the staff report, which included:

• Elements to create a residents’ registry for parking;
• Requirements for residents to register for parking permits;
• Requirements for temporary day parking permits;
• Enforcement;
• Costs.

“We have twice voted for something that was in front of us,” Commissioner Jean Peelen said. “After our last meeting, it was clear we were troubled that committee’s idea was pushed aside and another idea came from the administration.

“This is not the committee’s recommendation. It was not what anybody asked for. We have their plan; we have the draft of an ordinance.”

Peelen was referring to the committee’s parking plan, which commissioners agreed to implement. In July, they agreed that staff would work on the details, and City Attorney Patricia Petruff would draft an ordinance for discussion.

According to the ordinance, the two test areas where parking on the rights of way would be banned except for residents with permits are between Manatee Avenue and 52nd Street west of Gulf Drive, Manatee Avenue north to 43rd Street east of Gulf Drive, 74th to 81st Street west of Gulf Drive, 77th Street between Gulf Drive and Palm Avenue and Aqua Lane.

Commission discussion

“I was given the data to look at and digest and respond,” Buonagura responded.

“This is far beyond,” Commissioner Marvin Grossman said “We know what the problem it. It’s mostly on holiday and weekends.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. I thought we would try it (the Congestion Committee’s plan) out to see where the problems were.”

Chair Judy Titsworth said, “The limits are so limiting that it’s going to make us not want to go with the plan. We could ease up on some of these,” but added that staff was told to develop guidelines to implement the plan.

Commissioner Carol Soustek said committee members were not aware that the discussion was taking place at tonight’s meeting so they could attend and that she wanted to hear staff’s plan.

Chief Bill Tokajer said he and Buonagura met with Congestion Committee chair Jayne Christenson and Soustek to go over the staff’s report. He said he would present “a viable option that would be less cost and labor intensive.”

Chief’s parking plan Tokajer said he surveyed 20 blocks in the test area and counted the parking spaces. He developed an intensity of parking chart, which showed the main problem is on weekends and holidays.

“Even during the peak time on holidays and weekends, we utilize less than half of the 331 spots that are there,” he pointed out.

He said the city already has implemented no parking areas on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 52nd streets and on the north side at the curve of 45th Street between Second and Third avenues to alleviate problems. He presented the following alternative option to reduce the impact of holiday and weekend parking surges:

• All other streets: no parking on one side of the street on weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with public notice that the holiday parking plan is in effect.

“This is a viable option,” he said. “It addresses parking concerns, it’s more cost effective, there’s minimal use of staff time and resources, it’s easier to enforce, it’s quicker to implement and it meets the goals of the congestion committee.”

Peelen suggested that Buonagura and Tokajer meet with the congestion committee and come back with a recommendation. The others agreed in consensus.

Residents speak

“We need a permanent parking program,” Richard Brown, of Aqua Lane, said. “The parking permit ordinance was voted on twice by our commissioners. A new season is upon us, and the parking program is being pushed aside one more time. The majority wants the parking permit ordinance.”

Brown referenced a poll question in the AMI Sun on Sept. 30 and said 77 percent said on street parking on residential streets should be for residents only and 14 percent said all on street parking should be eliminated.

“In reality 91 percent said no. The citizens have spoken, and we expect our elected city government to take action.” Brown stressed.

However, Tokajer pointed out, “Using an unscientific survey, Mr. Brown took the 77 percent and the 14 percent and said 91 percent of the community said they didn’t want street parking.

“In reality, only 12 people voted in the survey. For him to say 11 out of 12 resident have spoken for 4,000 residents is overreaching. And we don’t even know if the ones who replied are Holmes Beach residents.”

Lois Huntington, of 30th Street told the board, “I am seething; I’m so angry. I see the north part of Holmes Beach’s traffic issues being shoved down on us.

“It’s awful. Your plan is going to magnify it. If you do half the city and shove them south, they’ll go to 30th Street.”

Tom Creed, of 49th Street, said he favors no parking on the street because his home was burglarized and felt the perpetrators could have parked on the street, and over Labor Day weekend, a big truck drove through his yard and destroyed plants.

Ecotourism, art tourism projects announced

Anna Maria Island and Cortez sites will be included in a new ecotourism initiative called ((ecko)), a project of the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida, organizers told the Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC) last week.

Tour guides will take visitors down the Manatee River of Time ecotour, boating them to Pine Avenue in Anna Maria, with a stop at the Historic Green Village and a beachside cocktail at the Sandbar restaurant. Optional activities include touring the Anna Maria Historical Museum and biking or stand up paddleboarding. Visitors also will tour the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez.

The tour is part of a series of tours highlighting natural diversity designed by the council, a coalition of 28 science-based environmental nonprofit and governmental organizations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Other tours include Sarasota Bay, the Myakka River, a bike tour of Venice and birding in Sarasota County.

Four-day tours range from $875 to $1,250, including hotels, transportation, most meals, guides, gear and admission fees. Commuter rates are also available for local residents who do not wish to stay in a hotel.

“Our reputation is for providing beach experiences and natural experiences,” said Walter Klages, of Research Data Services, the county’s tourism consultant. “Ecotourism is the key element that drives tourism.”

Another tourism initiative, the ArtWalk, was presented by Realize Bradenton, which requested $100,000 from tourism resort tax funds over the next two years.

The project will create a three-mile corridor of public art, including Riverwalk, Main Street, the South Florida Museum/Bishop Planetarium/Parker Aquarium, the Manatee Performing Arts Center, ArtCenter Manatee and the Village of the Arts.

Large postcard panels will explain sites, while an interactive Website accessible on laptops, notebooks and cell phones will guide visitors to art sites, restaurants, hotels and shops.

The council voted unanimously to approve the funds for consideration by the Manatee County Commission.

In other business:

• The TDC learned from the county’s tourism consultant, Research Data Services, that July visitation to Manatee County was up 8.4 percent from a year ago, with Anna Maria Island occupancy rates up 1.3 percent over last July. August visitation was up 8.9 percent with Island occupancy rates up 2.4 percent over last August.

• Kelly Clarkson, of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, reported that the CVB was represented at a London tourism event by a pop-up beach, featuring sand, a Jacuzzi and sandcastle building opportunities for attendees, who made manatees, she said.

• TDC Commissioner Jean Peelen announced the Home Sweet Home initiative’s first meeting in October, designed to attract more residents to Anna Maria Island, which has been losing residential homes as they are converted to vacation rentals. “Without a community, it’s not real, authentic Florida,” she said.

Fire commissioners review Station 4 rebuild

BRADENTON – West Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Tom Sousa updated fire commissioners on plans for rebuilding Station 4 at 407 67th St. W., Bradenton, and set a special meeting Oct. 29 to accept the contract and review the architect's drawings..

Sousa said battalion Chief Chris Kiernan, who has worked all phases of the construction business with his father, a contractor, would be the project manager. Kiernan reviewed the $2.76 million estimate from NDC Construction with the board.

“The cost is higher than expected,” Commissioner Randy Cooper said. “There’s some sticker shock, but we’ll get a lot of value to the public. This will be a hell a lot stronger than what we have now.”

Commissioner George Harris asked if they are applying any green concepts to the building.

Kiernan said they would wait until later in the project “and if additional money is left over, we can apply some LEED concepts. We’re not looking to become LEED certified, but we will apply some LEED concepts.”

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, “LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a rating system for green buildings.”

Commissioner Larry Jennis asked if Kiernan received input from firefighters and officers

“I took the plans to each shift and got input,” Kiernan replied. “Sometimes we were able to accommodate their requests and but sometimes we were not.”

Harris asked if the sleeping quarters were as far as possible from 67th Street, and Kiernan said they were.

Chair David Bishop asked Sousa about the cost and financing, and Sousa said the project was included in the 2015-16 budget and the board approved $2.5 million for construction costs. He said there would be additional costs appliances, cable, permit fees and the like.

“I will try to get a hard number before the special meeting,” Sousa said. “I was projecting to use a million from the reserve and the balance from the loan – $1.75 million at 2.5 percent on 10-year amortization. The payment would be $198,000 per year for 10 years.

“I talked to Hancock Bank officials, and they authorized up to $2 million. It gives the board up to $2 million over 10 years at 2.5 percent, so if the board wanted to increase the $1.75 and not use as much of the reserves it’s available.”

“We’re looking at $2.8 million,” Commissioner Al Robinson said. “Could it go to $3 million?”

Sousa said it could.

“Our $1.5 to $2 million firehouse is now $3 million,” Robinson pointed out. “We tell the public one thing and do another. We had an opportunity to remodel for $1 million.”

“Five years ago we had an initial study that said we could spruce it up for $1 million, but it was pretty clear if we were to build new the cost would go up,” Bishop replied.

The board approved a motion to authorize bank to prepare loan documents up to $2 million based on 2.5 percent interest over 10 years with Robinson dissenting.

Sandblast seeks teams

sun file photo

Sand sculpting teams must register by Nov. 7 to participate in this year’s Sand Sculpting Contest, a fun-raiser for Keep Manatee Beautiful, a nonprofit organization dedicated to litter prevention, beautification and environmental improvement throughout Manatee County.

The entry fee is $300 with 15 team members allowed. Teams can contact local businesses or organizations and ask them to sponsor the team. For help with finding a sponsor, call Keep Manatee Beautiful at 795-8272

The event begins with free sand sculpting clinics, where teams can learn the tips, tricks and techniques of sand sculpture taught by master sculptors Team Sandtastic. Clinics are on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 12 and 13, from 5 to 6 p.m. at Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach.

Sand themes are free form, wildlife or holiday, and divisions are school or open. Each 15' x 15' plot will be mounded with sand prior to the event. Bring spades, shovels, buckets and trowels to create a sculpture.

The contest begins on Saturday, Nov. 14, with check in at 8 a.m., sculpting from 9 to 1 p.m. followed by judging from 1 to 2 p.m. and awards at 2 p.m. Beverages and snack bags will be provided.

Download the event flyer and registration form at to register.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper