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OPINION WILL THE COUNTY SINK THE SUNCOAST SUPER BOAT GRAND PRIX FESTIVAL? EDITORIAL After 28 years, the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Festival is, according to organizers, "one of the longest continuously running race venues in the country." It brings thousands of fans to the area and millions of dollars into the local economy, at one of the slower times of the year. It raises money for Suncoast Charities for Children, which provides facilities and funding for organizations serving special needs children and their families. It all sounds wonderful, right? benefits from it and, by extension, the special needs children who depend on Suncoast Charities. Not every commissioner was so sanguine about blowing off a long-standing event that brought more than 100,000 visitors to the waterfront last year and pumped more than $14 million into the local economy. Commissioner Joe Barbetta argued valiantly for increasing the funding for the festival this year, and he and Chairwoman Carolyn Mason tried in vain to gain at least a compromise appropriation that would cover the organization's entry fee to the sanctioning body. But the other commissioners — Nora Patterson, Charles Hines and Christine Robinson — were having none of it. Not according to all the Sarasota County commissioners. Channeling their inner Simon Legree, the commissioners voted to provide only about 10 percent of the amount requested by The final appropriation granted only $10,000 the charity hosting the festival. Their parsi- to Suncoast Charities, with another $3,500 of mony threatens the event, the charity that "in-kind services" for the actual event. The

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