The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 2 - October 24, 2012


Cumber pleads not guilty

William Cumber pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second degree murder charges in the disappearance of Haley’s Motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler.

Cumber, who was brought to Manatee County by Manatee County Sheriff’s Detectives Ricardo Alvarado and John Kenney, was in prison in Punta Gorda on a parole violation conviction when the charges were filed.

While little is known about the evidence that convinced the county investigators that Cumber is guilty of the charges, both Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube and Kenney said they felt they had a strong case against him.

Cumber, who was Musil-Buehler’s boyfriend when she disappeared Nov. 4, 2008, was clean shaved and sported short hair, different from how he looked when he stood trial for violating probation March 2009. At that time, his hair was long and he had a beard.

At the hearing last week, Public Defender Larry Eger demanded a jury trial for Cumber.

The next step in the judicial process is a case management hearing on Jan. 16 in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Krug.

Cumber will not be eligible for parole while waiting for the eventual trial in the case. He has not made any statements of guilt to authorities. His silence on the woman’s disappearance caused the Sheriff’s Office to look for evidence or a body on the beach near Gulf Boulevard in Anna Maria, where her car was seen parked at the beach overnight before her disappearance. The Sheriff’s Office used ground penetrating radar and cadaver dogs to search the beach, but found nothing.

Cumber faces up to life in prison if he is convicted of her murder.


Immigration arrests two at Island job sites

HOLMES BEACH – Two men have been arrested and charged with Workers’ Compensation fraud following a series of surprise police actions at properties under construction by Beach to Bay Construction last week.

The arrests followed raids at two addresses on Tuesday, Oct. 16, by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud after the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency informed company officials that at least 18 individuals working for the Holmes Beach-based company showed false identification for the purpose of gaining employment.

Beach to Bay checks the identification of prospective workers prior to hiring them and did not know that any employees had false IDs, said Scott Eason, president of Beach to Bay Construction Inc., which owns Beach to Bay Construction L.L.C. Eason is a managing member of both entities and shares management with Shawn Kaleta in the limited liability corporation.

ICE agents contacted Beach to Bay to locate the suspects, Eason said, adding that ICE notified the company that its policies are in full compliance with federal government requirements.

“ICE has been very appreciative of the assistance and cooperation we have given them,” he said. “All Beach to Bay employees were in compliance last week and remain in compliance.”

ICE declined to respond to questions about the remaining 16 suspects because the investigation is ongoing, public information officer Carissa Cutrell said.

The two men were arrested at two Holmes Beach construction sites, 213 84th St. and 119 Neptune Lane.

Emmanuel Centeno-Hernandez was arrested Tuesday, Oct. 16, after he provided what authorities said was false Social Security and permanent resident card information in order to gain employment with the builder on April 8. According to the probable cause affidavit, the defendant told officials he paid $60 for the false documents. He remains in jail on $500 bond.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, Jamie Basilio-Chavez was arrested after presenting what authorities said was a Social Security number that had been assigned to a woman who is dead. Officials said the information included his name and a permanent resident card that he presented in January when he applied for work at Beach to Bay. He remains in jail on $3,000 bond.

The Holmes Beach Police Department backed up the agents during their visits to the construction sites, but did not provide details.

Work has resumed at 213 84th St., but not at 119 Neptune Lane for reasons Eason did not disclose.

City to start over on cell tower ordinance

BRADENTON BEACH – The Commission will be starting over on a telecommunications ordinance after the consultant who wrote the current one took it back.

Rusty Monroe, of the Center for Municipal Solutions, said his group would be formally requesting that the city repeal the ordinance in its entirety, after sitting through a work session and hearing criticism that the ordinance was repetitive and it placed a financial burden on applicants. He told the commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 16, that they no longer had permission to use it.

The move was seen as a victory for Commissioner Rick Gatehouse, who had found out the reason AMI Radio, located on Bridge Street, was unable to broadcast on the air was because the ordinance placed a financial burden on the owners who were trying to get a permit to install a nine-foot-tall tower at the station.

At a September City Commission meeting, Gatehouse blasted the ordinance, which was approved by the Commission in May 2011 under former Mayor Bob Bartelt and signed into law five months later by current Mayor John Shaughnessy. He found an e-mail from Scenic WAVES member Carl Parks to Monroe saying how they had worked so hard to prevent a cell tower from being built in the city. Parks has been critical of cell phone towers because of possible health hazards and that a tower would look out of place there.

The city began looking at an ordinance in 2009, when three companies approached the city about building a tower within city limits. After months of discussion, they heard from Monroe, who agreed to help adapt a model ordinance to meet the city’s needs and in return, he would act as consultant for the city at the applicant’s expense. The ordinance was drawn up and passed, complete with a fee schedule.

In July, the city approved an agreement with Ridan Industries to allow a cell phone tower to be built next to the city’s public works shop.

At last week’s meeting, Gatehouse read a statement in which he said he read the ordinance and identified a number of issues and possible issues with it.

“One issue I discovered was the AMI Radio broadcast antenna application, which was stalled in the review process,” he said. “Due to the ambiguity of the language and lack of direction within the ordinance for smaller projects, this small project was being subjected to that same process as a cell tower application, at great potential cost and frustration to this small business and community service owners at the station.”

Gatehouse said he found numerous areas of redundant language within the ordinance. He said the same requirements might be repeat elsewhere in the law, making it seem like more information was needed when it had already been addressed. He also said the fee schedule in the ordinance should be taken out and put into a resolution, which is easier to change.

Gatehouse recommended either city staff make the necessary changes to the ordinance or the city should advertise for providers who could do the job. He said he was asking for a consensus from the commission to have staff begin work on rewording the ordinance and to begin to process AMI Radio’s request for a tower permit.

When Gatehouse asked Building Official Steve Gilbert if he and City Planner Alan Garrett thought the current ordinance was repetitive, redundant, conflicting and ambiguous, Gilbert said yes. Gilbert also agreed that the fee schedule should not be in the ordinance, and there should be a threshold where the ordinance would be activated.

After some discussion, the Commission reached a consensus to expedite the radio station application, remove the fee schedule from the ordinance and direct staff to review the ordinance for modification.

After hearing from Jim Eatrides, of Alpha Omega Communications, and Kevin Barile, of Ridan Industries, the two companies making the current cell tower permit request, Monroe was sworn in and made a surprise announcement.

“I’m going to be very simple and short,” he said, “You do not have permission from the Center for Municipal Solutions or my permission to have used the ordinance. We will be formally requesting that the city repeal the ordinance in its entirety. The verbal agreement that was understood between the city and us, um, the city does not have our approval to use our work product.”

With that, Shaughnessy thanked Monroe and adjourned the meeting.

Candidates square off in The Sun’s election forum

ves grog to Sue and Jim Peterfeso.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Holmes Beach residents listen as candidates
answer questions supplied by the audience.

HOLMES BEACH – A capacity crowd heard five of the city’s candidates tell about themselves and respond to questions posed by readers at last week’s Candidates’ Forum sponsored by The Sun.

Commission candidates are incumbents John Monetti and Sandy Haas-Martens and challengers Judy Titsworth and Marvin Grossman. Monetti was unable to attend the forum, but sent a statement to be read.

Mayoral candidates are incumbent Rich Bohnenberger and challenger Carmel Monti.

The two commission candidates and the mayoral candidate with the highest number of votes in the Nov. 6 election will be seated.

Responses are in the order they were given at the forum.

Opening statements

Grossman: He said the overdevelopment of the two-family district is the big problem, and the commission has not been responsive to citizens’ pleas for help. He said they should strictly enforce the codes on the books, consider new codes and listen to the suggestions of the city planner.

“All of us can come together as stewards of our beautiful barrier island to put in place a vision statement that will blend together the old and the new while maintaining our authentic old Florida lifestyle.”

Bohnenberger: He said he has been a resident for 23 years and on the board as a commissioner and mayor for 16 years. He said the big problem is the state law limiting regulations on rentals, which makes city officials “function with one hand tied behind our backs.” He said he is working with legislators to repeal it. He said rentals have created problems with intensity of use, but “if we act on short-term rentals, we could lose all of our restrictions.”

Titsworth: She said she grew up in Holmes Beach and is the third generation of the Holmes family, for which the city is named.

“Although change is inevitable, not all change is good. The residential character of Holmes Beach is quickly being replaced by resort housing. It is up to the residents to inform the city fathers what direction we’d like our city to take. I believe for the last five years, the residents’ cries have been falling on deaf ears.”

Haas-Martens: She said she has lived on the Island since 1969 and been a commissioner since 1998 and has worked with local elected officials and the state legislative delegation.

“Few communities have fared as well as the Island during the economic downturn. Holmes Beach has and continues to be economically stable. We have been very good stewards with your money. There’s a lot of things we do that you don’t see or think of besides the big house issue.”

Monti: He said he grew up in a small town with a sense of community and history, much like the Island. He put himself through school, served in the Peace Corps and had career in the photo and eyewear businesses.

“I have a lot of experience in running businesses and understand what it takes to run a business. The city has to be run like a business. You have to have accountability and responsibility to do this job properly.

Q: What are the two major issues facing the city?

Bohnenberger: Short-term rentals and putting new police hires in the state pension plan so once they retire, the city is no longer responsible.

Titsworth: Resort housing and the building department’s interpretation of the codes.

Haas-Martens: It’s not just rentals; it’s the bigger picture –the police pension, the reserves, home rule, keeping taxes low.

Monti: Tighten up laws on new and existing structures, enforce the laws on the books and hold officials accountable.

Grossman: Enforce the codes and pass laws for the R-2 district that will regulate size and other things that create problems.

Q: Some say that the city is changing from one of a residential city to one of non-residential, investor owned properties built for weekend beach parties. If you think this is a problem, how would you work to resolve it and preserve the city’s residential character? If you do not agree that it is a problem, explain why.

All agreed it is a problem.

Titsworth: They wouldn’t have been there if we had followed the rules.

Haas-Martens: We’ve been working on the noise, trash and parking problems, but we can’t take away people’s rights to build duplexes.

Monti: Uphold the laws and make sure people understand what the laws are, whether it’s the rental agent, the building code or city hall, and we have to follow through.

Grossman: Do something and not wait a year until you act.

Bohnenberger: We have expanded code enforcement, education of rental agents and increased parking requirements.

Q: What do you think about the county’s promotion and marketing of the Island as a tourist destination?

Haas-Martens: They are putting some of the focus on sports on the mainland, but people are going to continue to come to the beach.

Monti: It’s a tourist attraction and should remain one, but it’s a matter of balancing the type of housing for rentals and residents so you don’t create more problems.

Grossman: We’re attracting the wrong kind of tourists. We should be attracting eco-tourists and foreign tourists.

Bohnenberger: More of the tourist tax money should come back to the Island, and they should have developed other areas on the bay side that could serve as beach accesses.

Titsworth: I have a hard time with the heavy advertising. Twenty years ago, I dreaded snowbirds; now I embrace them.

Q: Several focus groups were formed and gave their suggestions to the city. What do you think are the best of the suggestions and how should they be implemented?

Monti and Titsworth said they were not involved in the focus groups, but Titsworth said the commission should have involved the city planner.

Bohnenberger said the mayor's role is administrative not legislative, and the commission should have had a work session on the suggestions with the city attorney present.

Grossman: There were great suggestions, but no one followed through.

Haas-Martens: My focus group was code enforcement and we are not afraid to give out tickets, are working with the rental agents, got rear door trash pick up and are working on parking.

Q: Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria contract with an outside company for their building official. Would you like to see this implemented in Holmes Beach?

Grossman, Titsworth and Monti said yes and that the city should have an objective and independent building official and inspector.

Haas-Martens and Bohnenberger said no and that the current building official is professional and knowledgeable.

Q: Holmes Beach has spent $17,000 suing its neighbor over a fence that affects very few citizens. Are you in agreement with that?

Bohnenberger: It’s not about the fence; it’s about the illegal transfer of public property to a private entity. Under our oath of office, we are required to uphold the constitutional laws of the state.

Titsworth: I had hoped that it could have been resolved. They are our neighbors, and it could have been a round table discussion.

Haas-Martens: We had a round table; we tried everything we could. You can’t give away public property. We had to do something. It affects all our residents.

Monti: My inclination is if you sit down over a cup of coffee, it could be worked out. I heard the attempts that we made were very caustic, aggressive and adversarial. I totally disagree with spending that money.

Grossman: I heard there was no compromise, but I hear stories from different people. I think it could be settled now. I will try if elected.

Q: Some rental agents list ground floor game and rec rooms. Doesn’t this expose residents to FEMA violations and the risk of losing their insurance discount?

Monti and Grossman said agents advertise game rooms, but use them to accommodate more people, and they should stop advertising them, and Haas-Martens said she is not sure if it’s a FEMA violation.

Bohnenberger said advertising game rooms could trigger a FEMA investigation, and the city should take that section out of the code and replace it with the FEMA manual by reference.

Titsworth said it’s the intensity of the use and that if the city continues to ignore FEMA, it could begin inspecting properties.


Monti: I represent the many not the few. There are too many special interest groups and the tails are wagging the dog. It goes back to leadership and following what’s on the books and executing it.

Grossman: We’re at a crossroads – party city or authentic old Florida. I pledge to enforce the city codes and work for major solutions to the overdevelopment. Let’s make our vision become a true reality and save the Island for future generations.

Bohnenberger: It’s a matter of getting our hands around the problem, dealing with the state legislature and getting our citizens’ rights restored. I think we’ve been accountable to the taxpayers and done a reasonably good job, and in another two years, we can continue to do better.

Titsworth: The real problem is that we the people have not done our civic duty. The solution is to fulfill our civic responsibility to respect the law, get involved in the community, watch over our government and seek good leaders to represent us.

Haas-Martens: When I decided to run for commission, I said I have the time and the ability, I’m honest, I’m fiscally responsible and I have common sense. I have taken classes to increase my knowledge of how we run the city. We need to be active and reach out to the other cities.

Board considers options for Pine Ave. sidewalks

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners are considering whether to keep the experimental filter mix sidewalks on Pine Avenue or to replace them with another material.

The issue came up when City Attorney Jim Dye said in an Oct. 10 hearing on the lawsuit by Barbara and William Nally, of Lakeland, against the city, the judge ruled in the city’s favor.

In August, the Nallys asked the court to require Pine Avenue Restoration (PAR) to install concrete sidewalks at its properties on Pine Avenue in place of the experimental filter mix pathways installed by PAR at its properties last fall. The filter mix sidewalks were to have an 18-month trial period.

“The judge said the court has no interest in telling the city what to make its sidewalks out of,” Dye explained. “My suggestion is that the filter mix needs to be scrutinized to determine whether its suitable or not.”

Building Official Bob Welch said if the city wants to allow the filter mix, his staff must develop performance standards to evaluate it.

Mayor Mike Selby said the trial period began in October 2011 and it has another six months.

People don’t like them

‘My biggest issue is that not one citizen has said they like it,” Commissioner Dale Woodland said. “It was a bad experiment from Day 1 and it’s never gong to work. Don’t think about expanding it.”

He said the sidewalks meander, are not maneuverable, don’t get used and are a safety hazard.

Commissioner SueLynn said she has not had any positive comments on them and asked what they cost. Welch said he didn’t know because they were installed by PAR.

“People don’t like the surface and don’t know where the sidewalk is,” Chair Chuck Webb agreed.

Resident Carol Pearman also agreed and added, “They are not clearly delineated. People dislike them and do not know what they are for.”

Commissioner John Quam asked if they are ADA compliant. Welch said that is to be determined, but Micheal Coleman, of PAR, stressed, “They do work. In a year, there’s been lots of people on wheelchairs and in walkers and older people (using them).”

Woodland suggested a boardwalk like at the city pier, and Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said, “That’s a terrific idea. It fits in with the ambiance.”

However, Welch said it would be a maintenance nightmare.

Quam suggested concrete or pavers, and Welch said pavers would be better than concrete.

Webb told Welch to investigate possible options and costs.

Conference focuses on authentic Florida

ANNA MARIA – The Florida dream has changed radically over the past century, and it’s up to Floridians to define the next one, according to former University of South Florida history professor Gary Mormino, author of “Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida.”

Mormino was one of several speakers and participants from around the state who gathered at the Sustainable and Authentic Florida Conference last week on Anna Maria Island.

The group explored Pine Avenue in Anna Maria, Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, the Sister Keys off the southern tip of Anna Maria Island and other local sites of interest. Coastal Manatee County was featured with Wakulla and Franklin counties, Miami Beach and DeLand in the inaugural conference.

The places share a theme of creating distinct communities that resound as authentic with residents and visitors, according to conference director Herb Hiller.

“As we market the destination, it’s important not to compromise its authenticity,” Elliott Falcione, of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, told participants, adding that Manatee County’s new tourism slogan is “Real. Authentic. Florida.”

Dream state

The first Florida dream, after the Civil War, was a state where invalids could recuperate, Mormino said.

In the 1920s, “Florida became Florida” when the dream changed to real estate – with its art deco and Mediterranean revival architecture – and the Great Depression starting the cycle of booms and busts.

Air conditioning and DDT to kill mosquitoes made Florida livable in the mid-20th century, making the state one of the two most popular dream vacation spots in the country after World War II, along with California.

When soldiers came home from the war, many settled down in Florida - where they had been trained – drawn by vacant beaches, another long-gone dream, Mormino said.

Another land boom followed in the 1950s, with new architectural styles – ranch houses and bungalows – followed later by multi-story condos blocking out the sun up and down coastal Florida.

Seniors had a dream of retiring in Florida, which has changed from sedate retirements in downtown St. Petersburg to active ones in golf- and tennis-oriented places like Sun City Center.

Filmmakers even had a dream of making Sun City, next to Sun City Center, “Hollywood East,” but it never materialized, he said.

Dreams of future, past

When Disney World opened in Orlando 41 years ago, Florida changed forever, making obsolete other tourist attractions like alligator farms, ostrich ranches and mermaid shows, Mormino said.

“What unites us now is 98 percent of people have been to Disney,” he said.

Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice skit from the film “Fantasia” serves as a Florida tourism parable, Mormino said.

When the apprentice chops up a mad broom to make it stop, all the pieces become slaves of the master broom, creating chaos, he said.

“We inherited a paradise, but how do you halt the chaos?” Mormino asked. “Is tourism sustainable?”

He posed the following questions: Will Florida become a tropical Coney Island? What is the tipping point when roads become too congested to make Florida feasible? Will it control its pell mell growth? Will predictions come true that when Florida’s population reaches 20 million, “We’re gone?”

The questions are up to Floridians to answer, he said.

With the latest Florida dream in shambles, punctuated by foreclosure boat tours and Florida’s ranking as first in mortgage fraud and second in foreclosures nationwide, it’s unclear what the next dream will be, Mormino said.

To find it, residents must begin thinking like Floridians, or Florida may be over, he said, becoming the “Sunset State” instead of the “Sunshine State.”

City responds to FEMA

HOLMES BEACH – Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes has provided the numbers requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for four homes suspected of violating the agency’s regulations.

Last week, the agency cited issues raised by citizens about the city’s permitting process and enforcement of its floodplain ordinance concerning substantial improvements.

Steven Martin, program manager of the state floodplain management office in Tallahassee, asked the city to provide figures to indicate that the cost of improvements to these properties did not exceed 50 percent of the market value prior to the improvements.

He specifically targeted four homes located at 606 Crestwood, 531 Key Royale Drive, 302 67th St. and 207-209 55th St.

Duennes provided the following information. The first number is the depreciated value per certified appraisal and the second is the project cost per owner and contractor affidavit:

• 207-209 55th St. – $252,974 and $119,600;
• 302 67th St. – $382,200 and $121,550;
• 606 Crestwood Lane – $612,284 and $299,499.20;
• 531 Key Royale Drive – 307,919 and $113,500.

“All of these prove up under 50 percent,” Duennes said. “These numbers are the ones we based the approval of the permits on.”

He declined to comment further.

Martin also said following a Community Assistance Visit last year, his staff advised the city to revise its flood damage prevention ordinance or adopt the state’s new model ordinance by Aug. 23, 2012, which has not occurred.

Morris death the topic of two Dr. Phil episodes

BRADENTON BEACH – The death of Sheena Morris in a hotel room on New Year’s Day 2009 will be the subject of two episodes of the Dr. Phil program Thursday and Friday, Oct. 25-26, at 4 p.m. on WTSP 10.

Bradenton Beach police found Morris, 22, hanging from a showerhead at the BridgeWalk resort the day after neighbors reported a disturbance in the room she shared with her Tampa boyfriend, Joseph Genoese, who was not charged in the case. Police determined the death to be a suicide, but according to her mother, Kelly Osborn, she and Morris’ father, Dave Morris, believe she was murdered.

In the first episode, “New Year’s Mystery: How Did Sheena Die?,” Morris’ parents are scheduled to confront Genoese. The second episode, “New Year’s Mystery: The Polygraph Test Results,” is scheduled to feature results from a polygraph test that Genoese took, according to Dr. Phil’s website,

In an edited outtake from the program, Morris’s father claimed, “Joe was the last person to see her alive.”

“I wasn’t the last person,” Genoese responded.

“Well, if you killed her, you were,” Dr. Phil retorted.

Osborn, founder of Mother Seeking Justice, online at, wrote Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in August requesting that FDLE investigate the case using information she obtained from independent investigators.

FDLE did not question the determination that the death was a suicide, but made recommendations that Bradenton Beach Police Department Chief Sam Speciale has not released, although he administratively reopened the case to address them, he told The Sun last week.

The public is invited to view the Dr. Phil program with Osborn both days at The Golf Club, 12950 Racetrack Road, Tampa. The Golf Club will donate a percentage of the revenue received during the programs to a domestic violence organization of their choice.

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