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have seen happen was inattention to that fil- ing deadline. Sarasota County Commissioner Carolyn Mason was justified in telling her col- leagues during their April 23 regular meeting that they were left with "egg on the face." Anyone who had felt the smallest nagging worry up until that point about SANCA being able to fulfill its end of the funding bargain should have experienced a jolt of alarm. Of course, SANCA acted hurriedly to rectify the filing mistake. But why has it dragged its feet on finding the contributions it needs to put in place the park's final pieces of infra- structure? That is the question the Sarasota and Manatee county commissioners — and all of the rest of us taxpayers — need to have answered. In recent months, every time a commissioner has tried to pin down Blackketter on such details, he has squirmed. He has spun a gos- pel of good vibrations instead of providing solid satisfactory answers. Yet, in spite of the missing information, the Sarasota board approved an agreement in March that calls for the county to reimburse SANCA up to $788,999 each fiscal year for maintenance, personnel costs and other expenses in return for managing all the events at the park. That contract also permits the county administrator to direct up to $100,000 more to SANCA for nonre- curring costs without having to consult the commissioners. At the same time, SANCA is "entitled to retain all revenue, proceeds and fees generated by events and activities." On Jan. 17, 2013, Blackketter spoke to the county's Tourist Development Council in glowing terms about how the 2017 World Rowing Championships practically was Benderson Park's event to lose. From interna- tional supporters to the leaders of USRowing — the national governing body for the sport — everyone apparently was cheering the venue on to victory in September of that year, when the winner of the bid would be announced. However, one statement Blackketter made at that meeting has reverberated in our mind over all these months: that it would cost only about $5 million more, from that point, for the remaining critical infrastructure Benderson Park had to have to host world-class competi- tions — among them, a starting tower, timing huts, audio/visual systems and a "regatta navy" to transport referees and provide safety support to the rowers. The Legislature gave SANCA another $5 mil- lion last year. Yet, it seems SANCA's staff is as bad at math as it is at filing state paperwork. L a s t w e e k , w h e n B l a c k k e t t e r s p o k e with Roger Drouin, the News Leader's county editor, about losing o u t o n m o r e s t a t e funding, he referred to a $52-million rowing venue. In other words, Why has SANCA dragged its feet on finding the contributions it needs to put in place Benderson Park's final pieces of infrastructure? That is the question the Sarasota and Manatee county commissioners need to have answered. OPINION Sarasota News Leader May 9, 2014 Page 100

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