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The Sarasota 100: meet the most powerful people in Sarasota today.

* This is a list of the 100 most powerful people in Sarasota today. These are the leaders who define, shape and propel this county. They can make things happen -- or stop other things in their tracks. They're the people whose calls you get off the line to take, and whose requests you don't turn down.

* Just where does their power come from? It can come from social standing (though in Sarasota, it seldom does) or from great wealth, particularly if that wealth is used to benefit the community. More often, however, it seems to derive from business success combined with civic leadership, or from philanthropy and social service. An elected office or high-profile job gives you a leg up, though many with weighty titles never develop into major players. Occasionally power comes less from accomplishments than because the person somehow symbolizes an important aspect of our heritage or vision of the city. And in a few instances, power seems to come from that most intangible quality of all, sheer personal force.

* Power waxes and wanes, and the people on this list wouldn't all have made a similar list last year; nor will they all be here a year from now. But we're going out on a limb and declaring these 100 the most powerful people in Sarasota right now.

* Here's how we selected them. We started out with several focus groups with well-positioned insiders, writing down every single name that was mentioned, then added even more nominations through conversations with business and government leaders and observers of the social scene. Only then did we start narrowing down, checking and crosschecking with sources as we decided who should make the final cut. Despite some polite disagreements -- and a few all-out battles -- we were surprised to discover how much agreement there was about the final list. Although Sarasota is often described as a community with fragmented leadership and special-interest splinter groups, the same names rose to the top time and time again.

* Actually, we were more surprised by who didn't make the list than who did. For example, in this city of the arts, hardly any artists seemed influential enough to be included. In other cases, people with prestigious titles were too new in town or too uninvolved outside their job sphere to get many votes. And we were humbled to realize that the media has less power than we'd assumed; our observations led us to conclude that by and large, those who make the news in Sarasota, not those who deliver it, shape this city. Despite our weeks of research and heated debate, we recognize that our list is gloriously subjective; and we're eager to hear from any of you whose Sarasota 100 includes names not on ours.

* Like any good story, our list has villains as well as heroes, an eccentric character or two, and more than a few surprises. Without more ado, we're proud to introduce (absolutely in alphabetical order) the Sarasota 100.

Abbott, Carl Best architect in town? Many critics think so. But he's every bit as proud of his two handsome sons as his award-winning structures. At the forefront of city aesthetics, arts planning.

Adley, Harry Planning type and Democratic party power with state-level influence. Volunteers expertise to many causes. A longshot in this month's city commission race.

Allyn, Deane Executive director, Sarasota Opera. Savvy arts administrator with great political instincts...most of the time. A will of iron. Known for protecting her turf.

Altabe, Joan Controversial art critic/reporter for Herald-Tribune; the woman the arts community loves to hate. Sensitive, introverted personality contrasts with her one-woman crusades.

Anderson, Bob Most respected and most senior member (12 years) county commission. Famous for commitment, doing his homework. Sense of humor revives many a deadly commission meeting.

Angelotti, Richard High-profile bank president. (Bank of Boston) Major supporter community causes, on boards from YMCA to Mote. Personally a big teddy bear, doting Italian papa.

Atkins, Fredd City commissioner, former mayor. Sarasota's most prominent black politician.

Band, David and Myrna Lawyer and very social wife. Involved in causes all over town. He's extroverted to the max; she's becoming one of most effective committeewomen around.

Barger, Stuart Articulate architect in Panama hat; into everything -- economic development, arts, education. Big commissions. (Asolo Center, Sarasota Opera, schools, etc.) Tendencies towards earnestness offset by ruthless sense of humor.

Bencienvega, Dominic Muckrucking Herald-Tribune reporter, pushed Ringling Museum/Winefest scandal. Sidelined to business desk for getting too many people in trouble?

Bispham, Cy Dairy farmer, agricultural power, turned environmentally correct developer (Serenoa). Florida Cracker character, seen often in cowboy boots. Crazy about grandkids.

Boczar, Jim New state senator, upset Bob Johnson. Combative, smart, combative, intense, combative, independent. Lawyer and computer nut. How he'll play the power of his position is the big question.

Brown, Jim Longboat Key mayor. Midwestern, retired newspaper man. Prime mover and consensus builder behind Longboat's new $17 million beach renourishment program. Heck of a tennis player.

Carlton, Philip Wealthy entrepreneur/maverick. Went mano-a-mano with the Herald-Tribune when he started a rival daily, The Independent, now reborn as a shrill, go-get-'em weekly. Ruthless businessman with disarming sentimental streak.

Carroll, Mary Fran Dynamic, down-to-earth biz whiz and "lady rancher." Left Chicago banking to oversee Schroeder-Manatee Ranch's coming transformation into a big new city.

Chamberlain, John World-famous sculptor of crushed-car parts, legendary rebel/bad boy/hellraiser. Sixty-something and still going strong. Frequently flees downtown studio/treehouse for Sag Harbour, Paris, Milan...

Cheek, Ed and Carol Well-groomed society couple (she was a Breck girl) who attend every benefit, even those they didn't organize. Tireless professional charmers who forge ahead no matter what.

Christ-Janer, Dr. Arland President, Ringling School (former pres. Boston U and Stephens). Venerated around town for making Ringling #1 up-and-comer in U.S. art schools. Clergyman character plus academic, political smarts.

Cook, Jane Only Sarasotan on Forbes 400 list. (Heiress to Dow Jones fortune.) Shy, retiring, unstinting donor to New College, arts, human services. If she's a patron, it's legit.

Covert, Michael New CEO of Sarasota Memorial. Understands and willing to flex enormous economic and social muscle of Memorial. Stay tuned.

Crouse, Jay CEO of Galvin Trust, family foundation that makes major gifts to Sarasota arts and social service causes. Big community commitment. Young, handsome, affable.

Dart, John and Deborah Bright couple with agendas galore. He: lawyer, led Chamber fight against moratorium, chaired countywide study of human-service needs. She: artist, preservationist, crusader for John Ringling Towers.

Davidson, John Came from Illinois in '55 and built drugstore empire. Fingers in lots of pies. Founder, owner award-winning Pelican Press, Siesta Key weekly; shuns limelight.

Dietz, George Long-established attorney. Reputation as best land-use lawyer around, because what he wants is "what's best for Sarasota." Congenial, nonconfrontational. "Let's work together."

Dubin, Barry Feisty leader of local teacher's union. In face of shrinking budgets, has fought for teacher's raises and seniority perks (i.e., "bumping").

Famiglio, Mark Sarasota's answer to Donald Trump. Young rich New College grad and wily real estate speculator (Crosley estate, airport properties). Bimbo sightings.

Fowler, Charles Sarasota Superintendent of Schools. Tall, lofty thinker. When Ray children enrolled, formulated national model AIDS policy. High board approval; high on teacher's union hate list.

Glasser, Kay Former college prof, longtime school board member, consummate fundraiser (Human Services Center). Tiny tornado in big jewelry. Gumption, fight for The Good win her total respect everywhere.

Gonye, Elisabeth Hungarian aristocrat by birth, Sarasota volunteer and achiever by relentless determination. New College, opera, Century Club, and more.

Gonzmart, Casey Runs family business and Sarasota tradition, Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands. Major promoter of Circle's prosperity and merchants' interests.

Gurney, Jack Hizzoner the mayor. Former Herald-Tribune reporter turned city commissioner. Idealist who tries harder, gets things done. Takes Sunday morning beach walks with fellow think tankers.

Heiser, Ron Retired general and saviour of New College. In conservative tie and suit, has raised $17 million for elite liberal arts school and helped make it a star. Ramrod integrity, awesome determination.

Hill, Alan Great American Circus owner and former Cosmo "Bachelor of Month." Now promoting boxing and other Robarts events. Sarasota's Don King.

Hopkins, Richard Artistic director Florida Studio Theatre. His FST has stolen much of the Asolo's thunder. More subscribers, more fervent local support, more fun.

Hudson, Tramm V.P. Enterprise Bank, economic development leader, consummate networker. Early spark behind Dan Miller Congressional victory. Bright-eyed Carolina boy with the accent to prove it.

Jacobs, Debra Banker (Sun Bank), Chamber overachiever. Probably president of every club in high school. Likes goal-setting, team-building. Remembers your name and writes you a thank-you note, too.

James, Ed Controversial black power broker. Enemies call him an opportunist with an attitude, but they sure pay attention when he calls.

Jennings, Christine Bank president with big hair. First woman bank head in Sarasota, worked hard and well to organize her Sarasota Bank.

Johnson, Bob. Ex-state senator, bringer home of much bacon, lost last November but still a favorite with grateful arts, non-profit establishment. Remains president of controversial French Film Festival.

Kalin, Ed and Alyce Furniture store owner and his elegant wife; prospered along with Sarasota. Responsible for the way most upscale Sarasota homes look; major supporters of the arts and other causes.

Kirschner, Kerry Former mayor (appeared on "Donahue," opposing Sarasota law against T-backs), now head of development at Mote. Staying in spotlight with BLAB show about Sarasota issues, politics.

Klauber, Michael Restaurateur. His stylish Michael's on East is the establishment's meeting place. Through his catering business, influence extends all over town. Dreamed up the Winefest. Son of Murf.

Klauber, Murf Proprietor, Longboat's Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. Former dentist who loves the good life. Made Colony synonymous with sports-oriented beach vacation for upscale tourists the world over.

Lindsay, Elizabeth (Liz) Fundraiser force behind Asolo Center, member Florida Board of Regents. After divorcing David Lindsay, former owner Herald-Tribune, she came into own. Doesn't seek spotlight but drive, energy, keep her there.

Loevner, Sandy Volunteer of the decade. Gets it done without her smile ever faltering. Unpretentious, genuine and totally committed. If she's selling tickets, she's the first to buy 10. Marathon runner, too.

Longino, Buster Cattle rancher, former County Commissioner, served on many land-planning, water boards. Lanky, folksy, knows everybody. His word is his bond and the land his love.

Lynn, Michael Saunders Founded Michael Saunders & Co., big realty company. In a town of realtors, she's the top. Rarely seen, but name is everywhere. An enigma.

Manning, Larry Longtime president Taxpayer's Association, made it major political force. Eloquent, conscientious, outspoken citizen activist.

Matthews, Lamar and Janet Establishment couple/achievers. He's influential lawyer, Democrat with top state connections. She's written books about Sarasota history, is behind-the-scenes power in the cutthroat world of county historical politics.

McGillicuddy, Dennis and Graci Entrepreneur brother of Sen. Connie Mack and his beautiful wife. Impeccable Republican connections and "Dynasty"-like lifestyle. Glamorous and a little mysterious.

Meshad, John Lawyer, developer, investor in restaurants, shopping centers, medical offices, Doctor's Hospital. Good attorney to have on your side if you sue government. Friends adore him. Enemies don't.

Michel, Carolyn Daughter of late Sarasota philanthropist, Barbara Hirsch York. Carries on family tradition of major support for arts, AIDS and Jewish causes. Noted actress, director, producer. Appeared on Broadway with Sid Caesar.

Mikos, John Property appraiser. Forever. Cross him or challenge him at your own risk. Takes no hostages. Tyrannical, zealous, and by the book. Makes great sausage for Christmas gifts.

Miller, Jono and Julie New College profs and crusaders for the Sarasota environment. Their blend of '60s activism and '90s consensus-building has won them widespread respect and seats on big local and state boards.

Mills, David County commissioner with Moral Majority bent. Got into much-publicized slapping match with Anne-Marie Hill but real clout comes from pro-business stands.

Mitchell, Rick Through his LAM Management becoming the guru of South County land use. Building powerful bloc of clients that include most of the players in the next, last big Sarasota growth spurt.

Monge, Geoff Third-term county sheriff with over-zealous vice squad. Pee-wee Herman's worst nightmare. Well-respected but has a knack for bad publicity.

Morris, Dick Founder, Sarasota Film Society. He brought foreign films to Sarasota but now has expanded into role of social critic/curmudgeon. Went after Bob Johnson and got him.

Morris, Robert Developer/philosopher. His Ramar Group Companies created landmark, eco-friendly communities (The Landings, Pelican Cove, The Plantation.) Now more into family life and educational reform.

Mote, Bill Retired shipping magnate and endower and active chairman of Mote Marine Laboratory. Other philanthropy, too. Avid sportsfisherman, super salesman, understands how to market to public.

Nelson, Dick Long-time county attorney, totally plugged into good-old-boy network. Personally charming. Retained plenty of power along with contracts when the county switched to in-house counsel.

North, Marjorie Society columnist, Herald-Tribune. Amorphous but undeniable power base. Not afraid to use her influence behind the scenes. More of a jaded newspaperwoman than her column lets on; she's seen it all.

Perkins, Robert Head of powerful, prestigious Selby Foundation, guru of Sarasota fundraising. Only person in universe who could have been chosen to mediate recent ballet board dispute.

Pomier, David and Eileen Urbane retired newcomers rapidly rising in social and volunteer circles. His formidable height and personal force balanced by her petite charm. A boon for Sarasota arts fundraising.

Porter, Henry and Cynthia Minister and his educator wife, major influences in black community. Famous for gospel choir and innovative teaching techniques.

Proffit, Waldo Longtime Herald-Tribune editor and official conscience of Sarasota. A soft-voiced sage whose editorials say it plainly and with good-natured common sense.

Resnick, Wendy UCP fundraiser and glamour queen. Personal experience with handicapped son keeps her going. Nonstop parties and chutzpah have pulled donors out of the woodwork for 10 years.

Robinson, Carolyn Young meteor on the way up. Poised, energetic, dynamic speaker. Vice-president community relations at Sarasota YMCA, social-service resume a mile long. Great dresser.

Rogers, Leo Beloved patriarch and gentle benefactor of Sarasota Opera, prime mover in forming Sarasota Ballet. At 90 still dashes off letters to editor, knows everything that's going on.

Roucher, Nancy and Jerry Siesta Key couple making second career of Sarasota arts. He leads Jazz Club, she's big arts educator, active on Arts Council. Friendly, love kids. (Ask about her new granddaughter.)

Sandegren, Annamae An old-guard legend that can still breathe fire. Republican stalwart, founded half the organizations in town. Famous for blistering phone calls to those who take politically incorrect (her politics) stands.

Scherman, Annette TV personality known for outrageous hats (she makes them herself) and love-fests with guests. Boundless energy, enthusiasm. Seen everywhere, usually with Norman, husband and former chairman of Sarasota Republican party.

Schoenbaum, Alex and Betty Philanthropists extraordinaire, built their fortune with Shoney's Restaurants. Lead givers to Sarasota's trailblazing Alex and Betty Schoenbaum Human Services Building.

Smally, Don and Jan He's a retired engineer (major local career). Both are opera lovers and big supporters of Sarasota Opera and various children's causes. He's now backing the restoration of John Ringling Towers.

Smith, Frank Folsom Architect/visionary. Plymouth Harbor, U.S. Garage, Burns Court renovations. Prime mover for civic causes (Gateway 2000; R/UDAT, early '80s conference that set much of city's redevelopment agenda.)

Spector, Ron Smart developer (twin brick towers on Second Street) who keeps clients happy and buildings full. Shy, modest, sly sense of humor. Lobbies effectively for business interests.

Taylor, Tom Sr. Taciturn patriarch of family that owns biggest land tract in South County, the former Barry Ranch. Thousands of undeveloped acres, agricultural now but someday...

Uitdenbosch, Peter AIDS activist. His position as a PWA (person with AIDS) gives him unassailable credibility; outspoken, steps on toes, has many enemies; organizes national conferences on AIDS issues.

Wallenda, Jenny Circus spokeswoman. As the circus' influence wanes, so does hers. But she's still outspoken and the keeper of the flame.

Warner, Lee Runs the Asolo. Brilliant administrator or the teflon bureaucrat? He made the Asolo what it is today; trouble is, some people don't like that.

Weidner, Jean Founder and CEO of Sarasota ballet. A beautiful former prima ballerina whose perfect feet are legendary among local ballet students. Slightly more personal force than Hurricane Andrew.

Weinrich, Carl YMCA president. Midwestern, can-do dynamo. Made Sarasota's Y a national leader and local catalyst for family and community services. Politically adept.

West, Fred Most powerful banker in town? Heads Barnett of Southwest Florida. Serious, intense, inspires loyalty. Valued on boards for reasoned, just approach. President Argus, pro-business lobby.

White, John Wesley County administrator. Progressive, intelligent, forceful. In consolidating county government stepped on some toes. Good with press. Honeymoon over, but relationship with commission works.

Windom, Bob Ultimate town doc, Norman Rockwell-type good guy whose career crowned by serving as U.S. Asst. Secretary of Health. Investor, owns tons of Sarasota real estate. Classmates voted him most likely to succeed at Sarasota High; he did.

Wise, Margaret Steel magnolia newcomer from Hot Coffee, Mississippi. Busy chairing everything. Grande dame in the making.

Wolfe, Paul Conductor, Florida West Coast Symphony. Competent, genial, not an enemy in town.

Wood, Art Northern Trust bank president, big supporter worthy causes. Good-looking, good-natured, well-bred. He and wife Peggy have twin daughters and are fun at parties.
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Title Annotation:Sarasota, FL
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:2857
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