Vol. 15 No. 19 - March 4, 2015


Global settlement to be proposed

BRADENTON BEACH – At the Thursday, March 5, commission meeting, Mayor Bill Shearon is going to present for discussion a “global settlement” that could potentially resolve four pending lawsuits and the forfeiture of office proceedings initiated against him.

Three of the four lawsuits to be discussed were filed by Shearon and/or his partner Tjet Martin, with Jo Ann Meilner serving as co-plaintiff in two of the suits. A fourth lawsuit was filed against Shearon by Ed Chiles’ ELRA Inc. restaurant ownership group.

Attorney Charles Johnson will join Shearon in presenting a proposal to the commission that is expected to include a request that the commission majority terminate the forfeiture proceedings formally initiated last month. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Conviction tossed in fish-tossing case

CORTEZ – The U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 last week to overturn the 2011 conviction of former commercial fisherman John Yates for destroying undersized grouper in a federal fisheries investigation.

Yates, 62, was charged, convicted and served 30 days in jail for disposing of evidence under a federal law passed in the wake of the Enron fraud scandal that criminalizes destruction of certain types of evidence.

In an opinion laced with colorful maritime puns and citing Dr. Suess’ “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” the court wrote that 72 undersized grouper discovered on the Miss Katie by federal fisheries officers in 2007 are not “tangible objects” under the law, which makes it a crime to “knowingly alter, destroy, mutilate, conceal, cover up, falsify or make a false entry in any record, document or tangible object with the intent to impede or obstruct an investigation.” More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story New four-way stop surprises motorists

ANNA MARIA – Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Paul Davis says his deputies are monitoring the intersection of Gulf Drive and Magnolia Avenue to make sure people comply with the four-way stop sign.

The Anna Maria City Commission passed an ordinance last week adding the extra stop signs to make it safer for pedestrians walking across the street and drivers trying to pull onto Gulf Drive without being able to see if there is traffic coming. The Department of Public Works erected the signs last Friday, but a lot of drivers aren’t used to it.

“It’s an educational process,” said Davis, who ordered his deputies to give warnings to motorists who don’t stop. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story ULI charts future of AMI

BRADENTON BEACH – Many city voters who signed the first of two recall petitions directed at Mayor Bill Shearon received a letter of rebuttal from the mayor last week.

In its entirety, Shearon’s letter states: “The following is my response to the recall election. I will be a candidate if there is a special election, I will also be a candidate for re-election Nov. 3rd. To save thousands of dollars of city funds and resources, don’t sign the recall petition. Vote in the regular election Nov. 3rd, not a few months earlier. I am committed to serving the citizens as your mayor.”

The letter is signed, “Thank you for your consideration. Mayor William ‘Bill’ Shearon.” More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPier opening celebrated

BRADENTON BEACH – The reconstructed Historic Bridge Street Pier was a scene of celebration Friday night during the grand opening ceremony presided over by Mayor Bill Shearon.

Shearon addressed the crowd of approximately 100 people who gathered at the far end of the pier, talking into a bullhorn while standing on one of the new pier benches, with Commissioner Janie Robertson standing nearby.

The mayor thanked the Tourist Development Council and Manatee County for the shared pier funding; the Cast-n-Cage restaurant and the Bridge Street Merchants for participating in the evening’s ceremony; and former Mayor John Shaughnessy, city staff, and the Pier Team advisory board for their guidance and contributions. More...

Holmes Beach to adapt Anna Maria’s rental ordinance

HOLMES BEACH – City commissioners agreed to tweak Anna Maria’s vacation rental regulation ordinance to suit their needs rather than reinventing the wheel.

“I feel it would be good to have consistency between Anna Maria and Holmes Beach,” Chair Judy Titsworth told the board at last week’s work session.

“You need to discuss what you want and what’s within your ability to provide,” City Attorney Jim Dye advised. “Do you have the resources and facilities to follow through?”

“You have to decide what is the problem we’re trying to solve, can it be solved and what does it take to solve it,” Mayor Bob Johnson added. More...

Commission heads in two directions

ANNA MARIA – Seeking a declaratory judgment for slowing the tide of short-term rental house construction is back on the table.

The city has talked about getting a declaratory judgment from the courts regarding whether the city had outlawed short-term rentals in its code before a state law took away the right of cities to do so. Getting a judgment would require the city to take legal action against a short-term rental operation, plead its case and hear what the judge rules.

The commission previously agreed to go ahead with a declaratory judgment, but Mayor Dan Murphy placed it on the agenda of Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting, where commissioners can vote on items. The previous vote was at a publicly advertised workshop.

“I call for a new vote because we voted at a workshop,” Murphy said. “No other city votes during a workshop.” More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryVolunteers package 75,000 meals

ANNA MARIA – Enthusiastic volunteers rocked out to music while manning tables and filling plastic zip bags with food at Roser Church on Saturday.

Their mission was to pack 261 boxes with meal packages for Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE), providing 75,168 meals for people in need. One healthy, nutritious package of lentils, rice, dehydrated vegetables and Himalayan sea salt costs $1.50 and feeds six people.

Meals will be distributed through the Manatee County Food Bank and to organizations such as Loving Hands, Agape Flights, Beth-El, the Lord’s Lighthouse and the AMI Community Center.

One group manning tables included middle and high school students from First Baptist Church of Palmetto. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPelicans among birds to be delisted

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is accepting public comments on a draft plan to manage 60 species that would keep 45 species on the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species List and delist 15 species.

The brown pelican, snowy egret and white ibis, year-round residents of Anna Maria Island and currently listed as species of special concern in Florida, are among those proposed for removal from the list.

The delisting was proposed because the species of special concern listing status is being phased out, and the birds, along with other 12 species, do not meet the criteria to be elevated to threatened status, according to the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Plan. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCleaning up Sister Keys

On Saturday Feb. 21, Sarasota Bay Watch members Larry Stults and I helped expedite an invasive flora cleanup at the Sister Keys off Longboat Key. The work was done by members of the Suncoast Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area group (CISMA) whose mission is "to address the threat to native diversity within the Suncoast CISMA by coordinating and increasing efforts to eliminate or reduce invasive, non-native plants and animals across public and private boundaries."

The Suncoast CISMA is primarily composed of interagency personnel involved in land management, but also a contingent of volunteers from Pinellas, Manatee, Hillsboro and Sarasota counties. More...

real estate

Going on a date with a house

You wouldn’t think about buying a car without a test drive, and you wouldn’t think about buying a boat without trying it out on the water. But we have no problem buying what is probably the biggest purchase of our lives without testing it first. So what’s wrong with this picture?

Recently I’ve stumbled across several articles about buyers trying out a home before they purchase. The little light bulb that went off in my head told me to do a little research into what to me should be a pretty obvious practice, but isn’t.

On Anna Maria Island there are tons of opportunities to try out the area because of the multitude of rentals, and many people traditionally rent before relocating. But renting a nearby property still doesn’t give you the exact feel for a house you may really want to buy. You may get a feel for the neighbor and even the street, but it’s not the same as spending a couple of nights listening to the unique sounds that every home has. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Passive indexing not always best

Investment Corner

After long periods of steadily rising markets, like we’ve experienced for most of the last 5 ¾ years, there is a predictable theme that comes to the forefront of investment conversations. The concept of indexing or passive investing is touted as the best way to go because most actively managed investment funds don’t beat their benchmark indexes during periods of rising markets.

The problem inherent in this argument is that index style investing generally gets riskier as market trends go on for longer periods of time. Index funds are required to hold their investments in proportion with the index the fund is based on. The most common example is the S&P 500 Index. Most indexes are capitalization weighted, meaning the largest companies as measured by the value of all their outstanding shares have a larger weight in the fund. So, companies like Apple, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft have a higher weighting than smaller companies like AutoZone or the WD-40 Company. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryThe Saints take down the Giants

The fog set in at the Anna Maria Island Community Center as the adult flag footballers took the field Wednesday nighTaryn The first game of the evening saw the Saints overtake the Giants in the 18 and over adult co-ed flag football league in an exciting head-to-head match-up.

With Jonathan Moss behind the center as the quarterback for the Saints, they started the game with three successful plays leading to a touchdown. Dustin Swain gained strong rushing yardage taking the team close to a first down. Taryn Morgan caught a pass by Moss and made running yards after the catch before Zach Schield for the Giants finally pulled her flag. Moss found Matt Morgan in the end zone to quickly take the score to 6-0. More...