Off Key News

| January 1, 2017

By Bob Frederickson

Fake Sales?

First it was fake news. Now with the recent holiday shopping season we’ve been hearing about fake ‘sales.’ California’s AG has taken legal action against Sears, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Macy’s for the retail equivalent of those fake news items that popped up during the presidential race with headlines like “Hillary’s Sex Trade Connection,” and “Trump/Putin Bromance Heats Up…”

Retail whistle blowers have alleged that it’s routine for fake ‘regular’ prices to be placed above racks of clothing and other merchandise with the ‘real’ regular price now advertised as the ‘sale’ price.

As Claude Rains would say, “I’m shocked!”

They Tell Me This Town Ain’t Got No Heart (just gotta poke around…)”

Sarasota’s Downtown Improvement District is looking to install gateway signs at three of the main entrances to downtown. Estimated cost: $100,000-$150,000. They’re intended to let drivers know they’re entering the ‘heart’ of the city. But it seems a bit redundant to me. I mean all you have to do to know you’ve reached the heart of downtown is keep an eye out for the ever increasing throngs of homeless folks milling about.

Speaking of Signs…

The opening of the new Cask and Ale bar downtown was delayed when Sarasota inspectors noticed a sign had been displayed at the Main Street location without a proper permit being pulled. It was yet another stumbling block for what has become a somewhat controversial project. During the initial approval process, some, including commissioner Susan Chapman, expressed concern about whether businesses like the Cask and Ale would bring too much noise to Main Street, since as we all know, people move to downtowns for the bucolic charm they offer and the prospect of a good night’s sleep.

Run Susan Run!”

Speaking of Chapman, The Herald Tribune reports she has decided to seek another term on the city commission, reportedly to maintain the “institutional memory’ of the board. Indeed, it would be a shame to forget about the spiraling costs of such epic city misadventures as the lift station 87 fiasco, or the all but incoherent approach to dealing with the homeless within the city, or the loss of events downtown to Venice (Chalk Festival), Lakewood Ranch (Thunder By the Bay) or downtown Bradenton (anything having to do with live music, like the recent successful Blues Festival along the Manatee River).

Remember when Sarasota had a world class Blues Festival of its own headlined by Grammy winning acts like Solomon Burke, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty and Gregg Allman? And when there were places downtown like the Depot where you could hear live music under the stars?

Barbara Strauss…we need you now more than ever!

Herald Tribune Offices Moving

Employees of the Herald Tribune will be moving after the first of the year to the Sun Trust Building just to the east of their current location at 1714 Main Street. The current location built in 2006 was not purchased by GateHouse Media when the paper was purchased from Halifax Media two years ago. No word on new tenants for the glass-shrouded tribute to the Sarasota School of Architecture designed by Miami’s Aquitectonica.

Protecting Porch Pirates’ Privacy

WFLA ran a story on December 13th about Porch Pirates stealing packages off the stoops of homes this holiday season. The station even ran footage of one thief at work, captured by a victim’s home surveillance camera. As the video rolled, anchor Stacie Scheibel asked viewers to call the St. Petersburg Police Department if they recognized the individual shown in the footage. The problem? Well, some genius decided to blur out the face of the thief as he or she went about ripping off the St. Petersburg homeowner.

Wouldn’t want to invade this reprobate’s privacy now, would we? (I only wish this had happened in Polk County so we could be entertained by what would most certainly be a colorful reaction from Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd).

That Sinking Feeling…

Sarasota’s Dolphin Towers stood vacant for almost five years after structural issues left it unsafe. Residents had to move out while repairs were made, leading to a major financial hit for those affected. Now residents of one of St. Petersburg’s premiere condos are experiencing a sinking feeling of their own. Their 20 story Plaza Harbour Island condo has been settling, causing cracks and other issues, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

No one has been forced to move out, but disclosure rules and litigation have apparently impacted the sale of units, some of which originally sold for as much as $2 million. Most recent deals have been all cash, The Times reports, likely a result of the difficulty borrowers face getting approval for a mortgage in the face of pending litigation.

Visit Florida Chief Sacked over Sexy Beaches Video

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Make a sexy video to promote Florida’s sexy beaches starring sexy Miami rapper Pitbull. The problem? In an obvious end-round of Florida’s sunshine laws Visit Florida’s top brass agreed to keep terms of Pitbull’s contract secret. But when the superstar crooner posted details of his agreement with the state’s official tourism agency online last week, it was revealed he was paid $1 million. The blowback was swift and harsh, from the Governor’s office on down and Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe and two of his top lieutenants resigned in the aftermath.

But on the bright side, they’ll have plenty of time to spend at the beach now.

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Category: Columns

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