Bob Sweat: Recount won�t yield answer
Pollution disputed as red tide link
Boil the water - or don�t
Walk kicks off the holidays
found in city hall
tide readings mild on Island
says no to Kingfish annexation
years of Island patrols
Bob Sweat: Recount
won�t yield answer
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH In light of
a tense situation in Sarasota following this months
elections, the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections
is only too happy to have avoided the electronic voting
Bob Sweat was the feature speaker at the weekly Kiwanis
Club of Anna Maria Island meeting at Café on
the Beach Saturday morning and he spoke about the
controversy in Sarasota County that will result in
a recount and investigation by state officials. The
controversy centers on the race for U.S. Congressional
Seat 13 between Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings.
Buchanan beat Jennings by 373 votes, but there were
reports that more than 18,000 voters in Sarasota County
did not vote for either candidate, casting doubt about
the reliability of the electronic voting machines
Manatee County uses the AccuVote 2000 system, where
voters fill out a ballot by hand and feed it into
a scanner. The ballots are saved for 22 months after
an election, according to Sweat, in case there is
cause for a recount.
"Weve got a paper trail," he said.
"Thats the bottom line."
As for Sarasota County, Sweat said without paper ballots,
"They cant prove right and they cant
Sweat said once a voter in Sarasota casts a vote on
an electronic machine, it is recorded and then the
actual act of voting is erased. He said a recount
would only identify votes that were recorded into
the system, but if the system did not record some
of the votes, they would not appear.
"I dont know what happened in Sarasota
County," he said, "but I know one thing,
the news media cant figure out whats inside
a voters head."
Sweat said he has been praised for choosing the AccuVote
system, but he cant take credit.
"When we pondered getting a new system, we formed
a committee of 35 people that looked and looked,"
he said. "A lot of people said to go with an
electronic system, but we took a survey of voters
and they said they wanted three things ease
of use, security and a paper trial so we went
with the AccuVote."
Sweat said the congressional district involves four
counties, including Manatee, and his office will have
to deal with federal officials overseeing the recount.
But he added that Manatee County has the actual ballots
the voters filled out and Sarasota doesnt.
Sweat said 105,560 people voted in the election this
year, which amounts to 50.56 percent of all the registered
voters. When asked about the expense of the AccuVote,
he said that it costs about $4,800 per machine plus
$100,000 for a software contract. He said the machines
Sarasota County uses cost about $2,000 more per machine.
When asked about absentee ballots, Sweat said "just
short of 17,000" Manatee County voters voted
that way, but "a whole bunch more" did so
in Sarasota County.
"They had a ballot issue in Sarasota County that
asked if they wanted to go to a system that left a
paper trail and voters approved it," he said.
"More voters there used absentee ballots because
that way, they left a paper trail."
as red tide link
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
PALMETTO A leading red tide researcher has
thrown cold water on the hot question of whether red
tide is caused by the nutrients in pollution runoff.
Plain and anything but simple the answer
is "no," according to Dr. Cindy Heil, of
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in
Heil addressed about 50 scientists on Thursday at
the 2006 Florida West Coast Artificial Reef Workshop
in Palmetto, sponsored by the Florida Sea Grant program.
Red tide is believed to form far offshore, out of
the reach of pollution runoff from land, she said
in her presentation on Tide Ecology and Coastal Nutrient
And particularly since red tide has been reported
along the Gulf coast since the early 1500s, before
humans created pollution runoff, its unlikely
that theres a connection, she added.
With fish kills documented from 1844, shellfish poisoning
documented from 1880 and respiratory irritation documented
since 1916, red tide in the Gulf is a natural phenomenon
that is always present at some level, and is here
to stay, she said.
The bigger question is whether nutrients in pollution
runoff sustain red tide after it has bloomed, environmentalists
say, citing the 13.5-month red tide in 2005-06 as
evidence that red tide increases as the population,
and pollution, increases.
"Nutrient pollution is not Miracle-Gro for red
tide," Heil said, adding that the worst local
red tide on record lasted more than 21 months in 1994-96.
Florida has a large amount of the nutrient phosphorus
in its soil that naturally runs off into the Gulf,
she said, adding that nutrients from decomposed plants,
which turn river water brown, also are plentiful in
Additionally, while the dispersal of 534 million gallons
of wastewater from the Piney Point phosphate plant
in 2003 is linked to the increase of three harmful
algae species, Floridas red tide - Karenia brevis
- was not one of them, she said.
Heil also disputed a new study in Gulf waters from
Anna Maria Island to Sanibel Island showing that 15
times more red tide bloomed in the years 1994-2002
than in the years 1954-63. Researcher Dr. Larry Brand
of the University of Miami also found the red tide
was 14 times more concentrated, and pointed to increases
in man-made nutrients such as lawn and farm fertilizer,
although the study did not extend to nutrient experiments.
During the 1950s, huge quantities of copper sulfate
were tested in the Gulf, killing red tide blooms,
which accounts for much lower levels of red tide during
those years, throwing off the study results, Heil
said. Copper sulfate proved environmentally unsound.
"Its been studied for 50 years," Heil
said. "If there was an easy answer, it would
have been found by now."
But while red tide kills fish, dolphins, manatees
and seabirds and makes people sick from shellfish
poisoning and inhaling the toxin, the good news is
that it has never killed a human being, like one species
of harmful algae in the Northeast, she said.
Boil the water
- or don�t
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA ISLAND When the boil water precaution
was in effect last week, some Island residents mistakenly
got the word that they could again use water directly
from the tap.
"There was a glitch in our reverse 911 notification
system," said John Zimmerman, water division
manager for Manatee County. "There were two projects
going on one on the Island and one at Travelers
Oasis out on State Road 64 by the Interstate. It was
that second project that got the all clear, but the
notification system called people on the Island."
Zimmerman said there was never any danger to anyone.
The boil water order was just a precaution and there
was no contamination.
"There are new regulations, and whenever you
take a system down, you issue a boil water advisory
in case anything gets into the system while its
down," he said. "You run a test in 24 hours
to check for contamination."
Zimmerman said the tests came back clean.
"But obviously there are some problems in the
notification system," he said. "Some people
werent notified that the system would be shut
down and then that there would be a boil water notice,
and some people got repetitive calls. Some people
got the all-clear phone call that shouldnt have.
As soon as we discovered what was going on, we started
addressing the problem."
The actual boil water advisory was lifted 24 hours
after the erroneous calls.
Anna Maria resident Joan Burke was one of the people
who got an early call. In fact she got four of them.
"I had four calls from them saying it was OK
to use the water again," Burke said. "I
called my daughter in Holmes Beach, and she called
the police department, because she hadnt gotten
the all clear call. She discovered it was a mistake
that I got the call.
"It was disturbing when I went to Publix the
next day and saw the signs about boiling the water
still up," Burke said.
"Hopefully, well be able to find out what
went wrong with the notification system and fix it,"
He said the system was shut down so that valves could
be installed which will enable the Manatee County
Water Department to isolate and close down smaller
parts of the system when problems arise.
"Instead of shutting off the water in most of
the Island, we can now just shut down small neighborhoods
and fix whatevers wrong," he said.
kicks off the holidays
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA With the taste of turkey still
on your mind, get into the holiday season with the
Second Annual Anna Maria Christmas Walk on Friday,
Nov. 24, from 5-8 p.m. in the city of Anna Maria.
Anna Maria takes on the persona of Bedford Falls in
the Frank Capra 1946 movie "Its a Wonderful
Life," minus the snow, as you walk from shop
to shop and take in the sights and sounds.
Christmas, Anna Maria style, includes a Christmas
tree lighting at the Anna Maria Island Historical
Society along with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who will be
checking that list twice.
The talented Suki Janisch will play her flute at the
old I.G.A. A Pine Avenue Salon will feature live music
and most of the stores in Anna Maria will be open
for shopping and some holiday cheer.
Some of the participating businesses are Dips Ice
Cream, Beach Bum Billys, Ginny & Jane Es
at the Old IGA, Silvias Flower Corner, Sandy
Richs Real Coffee and Realty, The White Egret,
Pine Street Grocery, The Anna Maria Island Sun and
Duncan Real Estate. Also open that evening will be
An Island Place Realty, Betsy Hills Realty, Chapaes,
Medical Equipment ACT and Sato Realty.
Anna Maria is the first of the three cities to celebrate
the Christmas holidays. Enjoy the charm and character
of the Islands northernmost city by joining
in the Christmas Walk with friends and neighbors and
get an early start to your holiday shopping.
Who knows, you might run into George and Mary Bailey
enjoying the Islands version of "a wonderful
Mold found in
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA - Indoor air quality testing has revealed
that city hall has mold contamination as a result
of two serious leaks that occurred while the city
hall was getting a new roof in August.
"Significant mold contamination was found in
the two-by-four trusses above the ceiling tile in
the commission chamber, in the room air of the work
area and in the west wall of the locker room and phone
closet," a report from Environmental Safety Consultants,
That company performed the testing on Oct. 20.
Mold growths were noted in the trusses, joists and
plywood roof in the attic above the commission chambers
and in four ceiling tiles there.
It was also present in the south plaster wall of the
workroom area in the clerks office. The carpet
in the administrative assistants office showed
problems, as did the bathroom and locker room in the
One ceiling tile in the break room appeared to be
Two attic areas showed problems one at the
west end of the north side and the other in the north
east corner of the building.
In the letter to the city, Scott A. Russell, president
of Environmental Safety Consultants said his company
found larger populations of mold inside the building
than there were outside.
Molds found were mostly penicillium/aspergillus.
Russell recommended that the mold be cleaned out by
a contractor experienced at that kind of work and
a repeat test be performed to confirm that no significant
At the October city commission meeting, commissioners
refused to sign off on a settlement with the roofing
companys insurance company to cover damages.
Mayor SueLynn recommended that the city accept a $10,486
check as a settlement from Roof USA, the company that
did the roof work at city hall.
Commissioners informed the mayor that they were concerned
about mold contamination at some future date. The
testing for mold was already scheduled for the day
after that commission meeting and it was the report
of that testing that revealed the presence of mold.
There was serious flooding on August 6 and again on
Red tide readings
mild on Island
Red tide was detected again last week at the north
end of Anna Maria Island at a concentration of 3 on
a scale of 7, with 7 being the highest. Slightly higher
concentrations were found at the Palma Sola Causeway,
according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute in St. Petersburg.
Water samples collected last week detected red tide
alongshore between southern Pinellas and southern
Collier counties. Fish kills and respiratory irritation
Medium concentrations were found at New Pass in Sarasota
County, in Boca Ciega Bay in Pinellas County and in
Gasparilla Pass in Charlotte County.
no to Kingfish annexation
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
BRADENTON Manatee County Commissioner Jane
von Hahmann told members of the Palma Sola Scenic
Highway group last week that her board turned down
an offer by Holmes Beach officials to voluntarily
annex Kingfish ramp.
"We got a letter (about the annexation offer)
from your incoming mayor," von Hahmann said.
"On Tuesday, the board said they would be more
than happy to work with Holmes Beach on any issues,
but we will not entertain voluntarily annexing that."
The ramp area has been under scrutiny since the county
announced plans early in the year to cut down Brazilian
peppers, increase parking and add a permanent restroom
facility. When Holmes Beach officials and Westbay
Cove residents opposed the plans, the county and the
city had the area surveyed and both found that it
was under the countys jurisdiction.
Westbay Cove residents met with Holmes Beach Commissioner
David Zaccagnino, County Commission Chairman Joe McClash
and other county officials to work on a compromise.
McClash said the county would not make any parking
improvements west of the Island Rotary Club welcome
sign. County officials were also amenable to a suggestion
from Westbay Cove residents to install a sidewalk
and native plants between the Rotary sign and the
condos and leave the picnic area intact.
Other plans that were discussed include removing the
Brazilian peppers to the west, moving the permanent
restroom location closer to the ramp, relocating landscaped
islands, defining the ingress and egress, eliminating
parking on the south side right of way by using bollards
and ropes to block it off and installing signs to
direct overflow boat traffic to the Coquina Beach
Holmes Beach Mayor-elect Rich Bohnenberger said Monday
that the city had not received any formal word that
the county had rejected the citys offer to annex
the land. He said he would not comment until he received
of Island patrols
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH He got his start in law enforcement
with the Bradenton Beach Police Department and rose
to the top. As he looks back on 20 years, Police Chief
Sam Speciale remembers some wild times.
"I remember when we had the Beach Lounge (now
an empty lot) and the Purple Porpoise (now the Sports
Lounge) on Bridge Street and the days and weekends
were busy," he said, referring to when the commercial
fishing boats were in port. "You had some of
the guys from the movie The Perfect Storm
Murph, Bugsy and Billie Tyne and the
Renegades (a motorcycle gang) at the bars and I was
a skinny little cop who weighed about 125 pounds."
Speciale said the fishermen would drink and get into
fights, sometimes wrecking the bar, and when the police
arrived, the bar owner said he wouldnt press
charges if they paid for the damage. He said they
would pull out large wads of cash and pay for the
damage and then pile out onto the street where the
police would round them up and drive them back to
"It was never really as crazy as everyone thought,
but it was fun," he said. "The fisherman
respected us and we respected them."
There was a time of turmoil in the department early
in his career. He said at one time, Mayor Dick Connick
reluctantly made a city garbage truck driver the police
"He told me that cops are a dime a dozen, but
a good garbage truck driver is hard to find,"
"One year, I made officer of the year because
I was the only one on the force who had been there
a full year," he said. "Im the only
officer here whose oath of office was signed by Connick."
That was then, and Speciale said things are different
"I think the biggest change I have seen is the
increase in the value of property," he said.
"I remember when a condo near the beach sold
for $55,000 and now its worth $1.5 million.
Bradenton Beach is no longer a sleepy little
tourist town, its a major tourist stop."
Things are different in the department as well, and
he said that training is essential to make sure his
officers stay on top.
Sam moved to Florida from Chicago with his parents,
who bought into a pizza restaurant on the Island.
He said he had always wanted to be a policeman and
he got his break when there was an incident at the
"The cops were investigating and I told them
about my dream to be a policeman," he said. "One
of them told me, Why dont you start with
He joined as a volunteer, went to the police academy
and landed a full-time job. It has been a great career
"Not many people can say they have a blast at
work," he said. "I have a great group of
men working on the force and I look forward to coming
to work every day."