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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Dec. 26, 2003 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

This week's items: Wishes for 2004 from some of the top business and education officials including: William Seider, Jim Tollerton, Harvey Vengroff, Bruce Franklin, Larry Thompson, John Tylee, Ian Black and Tom Luzier.

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

Their wishes for 2004¦

OK, it's the holiday time, and nobody's doing any work. If they are, they're faking it.

In that vein, Coffee Talk decided to take a fluffy approach this week and next to see what Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year wishes some of our friends would have for Sarasota and Manatee counties in 2004.

We asked: If you could wave a magic wand for Sarasota and Manatee counties in 2004, what would you do/change?

And we said the responses could be serious, frivolous, funny, sarcastic, short, long ¦ whatever. We said the respondents could make their wishes for their businesses or wish in general about the local business, economic or government scenes.

Here's what readers and business leaders had to say:

What to change or do in Sarasota or Manatee?

× Have elected officials do what they think is right. We have some excellent public servants, but (and this may come as a shock to you), there are some who unfortunately shift to whichever way the wind blows. Even if I don't agree, I respect people who vote for what they think is the right thing to do rather than the political expediency of the moment.

× Have the GCBR focus on Sarasota and Manatee and forsake the temptation/quest to be a business review for the entire coast.

× Reinstate freshman basketball in high school. Eliminating that relatively inexpensive activity was short-sighted. Let's keep kids involved in things like sports that develop teamwork and work ethic, not eliminate sports and leave them at risk.

William Seider

Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz & Getzen

My wish is that people try to do their best to make a positive difference in others' lives, which I have come to realize is the measuring stick of the value of our own lives.

Jim Tollerton

Professional Benefits

The thing to change in Sarasota/Manatee counties would be:

1. Not to give the prime waterfront lots to charitable (arts) groups or major condo developers, but to save that property for all residents to enjoy.

2. Eliminate the bullshit at the Housing Authority and allow for the sale of the refurbished apartments on Cohen Way and finish the rehabilitation of the balance of the units on Cohen Way.

3. Stop giving lip service to affordable housing and actually allow people to build some affordable housing instead of high-priced condos.

4. Eliminate the gates on Longboat Key.

Harvey Vengroff

Vengroff, Williams & Associates

I would require that all business and community leaders, in order to be qualified as leaders, be required to run for office for a term or two as a civic duty with no pay (like they used to do). I would require that all rules and regulations be trumped by common sense. I would require that all those involved in public discourse with nothing particularly important to say, or who merely like to hear themselves talk, be quiet. I would require that broader community needs prevail over narrow special interest constituency whining. And when none of this works, which it won't, I would ask God to change our democratically elected government to a benevolent dictatorship. Is this too much to ask?

Bruce Franklin

ADP Group

I wish that everyone in Sarasota and Manatee counties would know what so many in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco know - that Ringling School of Art and Design is one of the premiere art colleges in the country.

I also would like Sarasota and Manatee counties to think of this area as an educational district with its vast resources in higher education - Ringling School, New College, Univeristy of South Florida in Sarasota and Manatee Community College.

Larry Thompson

President, Ringling School of Art and Design

My magic wand would transform our downtown from the great place it is today to a vibrant and diverse place to live, work and play all year round - the best small city in the United States. My wand would also sweep across the county to create the most innovative, challenging and economically sound business climate in the state.

John Tylee

Downtown Partnership Inc.

I co-chair part of a subcommittee on economic development, one of the clusters is business climate. Its dealing with the regulatory situation and its effect on the business climate. My overall theme for the committee is instead of seeing the regulators and business community as 'them vs. us,' instead of them imposing regulations on us that bring a knee-jerk reaction, both sides should talk in the early stage to see if there's a reason or a necessity for regulations. Not after the fact. We should become more empathetic of what the regulators have to face, and they need to be more empathetic of us. Finally, I would say our elected officials should make decisions that are good for the community, not because they are politically expedient."

Ian Black

Ian Black Real Estate

My wishes for '04:

× For myself and my business: a continued, steady stream of diverse and interesting clients.

× For Sarasota: show-stopping, modern architecture, a few new hot spots, a historic preservation planner for the city and leaving behind the notion that 'beggars can't be choosers.'

× For Manatee: an open perspective about doing business with us South-of-the Border folks!

Thanks, GCBR genie!

Tom Luzier

Law Office of Riddell & Luzier

Next week: To be continued

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