Sarasota News Leader

06/13/2014

Issue link: http://newsleader.uberflip.com/i/329100

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 26 of 105

by that deadline, the company is required to reimburse the county $2,992 for each of the 117 positions that has not materialized. And so, on Sept. 10 of last year, Jeff Maultsby, the director of the county's Office of Business and Economic Development, contacted Sanborn to request documentation that the company had indeed created the positions it had promised. He received no answer. "To this date Sanborn Studios has not provided any evidence or documentation that it has created the jobs required," says a memo from County Attorney Steve DeMarsh. In its suit, the exact total the county will be seeking remains unclear. Neither DeMarsh nor county spokesperson Curt Preisser could confirm a monetary figure. If the county seeks to be reimbursed for each of the 117 jobs in question, the total would be $350,000, just 54 percent of the county's overall grant. But Sanborn is disputing the charge that it hasn't shown proof of the jobs it has cre- ated. According to a statement posted on the Sanborn website after the county's law- suit vote, "in 2013, Sanborn Studios provided evidence to the County that the studio had directly created approximately 200 full-time positions and indirectly created hundreds of others," "more than enough" to meet the requirements of its deal with the county. That statement was written by Scott Sobel, president of the Washington, D.C., public relations firm Media & Communications Strategies. Sobel tells The Sarasota News Leader there was a meeting between Sanborn representa- tives and county officials last Aug. 9, before the job creation deadline. He can't say what "evidence" Sanborn presented to the county, but he emphasizes that "Sanborn was not required to divulge information" and that the county received the material it is "entitled to." "It's not a matter of speculation," Sobel says. "It's a matter of absolutely irrefutable facts." Sobel also charges that the contract itself is not "enforceable." Calls to Sanborn Studios itself went unanswered. Sobel's statement on the website lists a num- ber of projects Sanborn has worked on and argues that the county has "sniped at and slandered" the company since 2011. "The County is sending a very clear message to all businesses that Sarasota is a dangerous place to do business," said company CEO Ken Sanborn, according to the statement. The press release calls the county's actions "ethi- cally and morally reprehensible." The Sanborn website now also hosts a 2013 letter written by Dori Sperko, a producer with Bradenton's Sweet Tomato Films. In it, Sperko tells Sanborn her company can no longer work with Sanborn because doing so might "jeopardize any chance" Sweet Tomato might have at "a Sarasota incentive." Sperko did not respond to a News Leader voicemail. The county could not confirm when its law- suit will be filed, other than "soon." % The Sarasota News Leader No-Nonsense Reporting Sarasota News Leader June 13, 2014 Page 27

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Sarasota News Leader - 06/13/2014