link to video of this forum 
CONA meetings
— monthly meeting —

 Monday 7 p.m.  June 11, 2018             see   video

understand the confusing
proposed ballot amendments

and updates on Arbour Lake Preserve, Bath and Racquet Club, Siesta PromenadeCelery Fields
  On June 11, please join CONA to hear Barbara Ford-CoatesDennis Maley, and Lourdes Ramirez discuss the proposed state constitutional review committee (CRC) amendments that voters will need to understand in order to determine which ones they will approve. Sixty percent approval is required. This year, decisions about many changes to the state constitution have been complicated further by the CRC grouping their proposed changes rather than using the traditional single-issue amendment format that is more familiar to voters. 

  Every twenty years, a committee is appointed to review the state constitution and to draft changes they alone recommend. Contrary to the typical procedures for state constitutional amendments, these are not citizen-initiated through a process that requires the consent of a significant percentage of the voters just to get onto the ballot and, grouping is used to obscure the large number of their proposed changes. 

  The grouping device seems designed to require voters to adopt unpopular changes in order to approve popular changes. Careful scrutiny and understanding will be needed this year in order to avoid approval of changes to the state constitution that are not desired—just—because they are tied to a change that voters do desire. Historical and contemporary perspectives of the amendments proposed by this constitutional review committee will be presented to assist voters in making their decisions.    

  Following a traditional half-hour social beforehand, the meeting will open with brief neighborhood updates about their current issues from Chris Bales on Arbour Lake PreserveBen Cannon on Bath and Racquet Club, Sura Kochman on Siesta Promenade, and Tom Matrullo on the Celery Fields.  Q & A will follow the discussion. 
neighbors helping neighborhoods since 1961

save the date  -  our anniversary party  -  November 5, 2018

at a glance*

January 8, 2018
structuring and funding
public-private partnerships
— Benderson rowing park —
Pat Rounds, Bill Zoller,
plus Stephen Rodriguez and 
Frederick Piccolo

February 122018
— Siesta Promenade —
Pine Shores Neighborhood
Alliance report
Sura Kochman
—  and  —
reviving our vision for Sarasota
Alex Coe 
Tom Matrullo
William Zoller
March 122018
smart growth needed
 more than ever
Dan Lobeck
April 9, 2018
see video
importance of our
comprehensive plan
Jon Thaxton
May 14, 2018
7,000-year-old burials
discovered off-shore
John McCarthy

June 11, 2018  
see  video
understand the confusing proposed ballot amendments
Barbara Ford-Coates
Dennis Maley
Lourdes Ramirez
July 9, 2018
  candidate forum  
primary election
county district two
August 13, 2018
—  candidate forum  
primary election
county district four

September 10, 2018
—  election topics  — 
panel discussion

October 8, 2018
—  candidate forum  —
general election
neighborhood issue updates 
November 5, 2018
—  fundraiser  
57th anniversary party
John McCarthy
update on CONA scholars
recognition of
Celery Fields leaders
Adrien Lucas, Tom Matrullo, Glenna Blomquist
and Fresh Start Initiative
 7 pm Michael's Wine Cellar, Sarasota

November 12, 2018
— tba —

December 10, 2018
short business meeting
followed by our
— potluck holiday party —
bring a favorite dish
to share with eight

January 2019
— tba —

our programs are
subject to change,
please check here
each month

September 10, 2012 - CONA — Foreclosure Mess 101
April Charney and Matt Weidner - attorneys leading the defense
full program

video archive

ballot amendments
October 8, 2012 
CONA meeting    
visit YouTube for these 

two videos  
(Part 1  click here)
(Part 2  click here)​

Foreclosure Mess 101

September 10, 2012 
CONA meeting 

visit the bottom of our Home page
for links to both the
 video and the article
 (click here)​

meeting locations and information 

  CONA monthly meetings are free and open to the public as well as the members of the more than seventy associations the organization represents and our individual members. 
  Regular monthly meetings are on second Mondays of the month at the Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts in Sarasota, which is at the intersection of Tamiami Trail, south of the Municipal Auditorium. Parking and the entrance are reached from Van Wezel Way. 

  A social gathering at 6:30 precedes these regular monthly meetings that begin at 7:00 with neighborhood issue updates.
  We do not schedule regular monthly meetings in July or August unless there are pressing issues of immediate concern. 
  Special meetings may be held on different dates, at other times, or at other locations, please check announcements and notices carefully. 

  Special fund-raising events may be reserved to contributors who respond to advertisements of the event to members and the public.
February 24, 2015 - CONA — primary candidate forum 
Sarasota municipal primary election for districts 2 and 3 city commission seats
Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4 
video links to two 2015 candidate forums   
Sarasota municipal commission races
district two and district three

May 12, 2015 election
    If you missed our candidate forums for this election, Pete Theisen created these videotapes of them. Those who participated in both forums are the only candidates for the May election. The primary campaign forum was solely a CONA event, but the runoff campaign forum was a collaboration with our guest, the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations - CCNA. 
   The content of each forum is quite different, as an effort was made to avoid repetition of questions, so reviewing both is advised before voting.  
runoff race forum  —  Monday, April 13, 2015
entire runoff forum in one link
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

primary race forum  —  Tuesday, February 24, 2015
entire primary forum in one link
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

—  rewarding feedback ​ —

   On February 24, 2015 the meeting hall was filled with “super voters” and we had to pull out two extra rows of chairs from storage to accommodate the overflow crowd eager to hear the CONA forum. Compliments made to us immediately afterward justify the efforts made by those involved in pulling the forum together, here are a few, 
“I now feel that I know all of the real issues in this race.”
“I never miss the CONA forum for a race because it is so informative.”
“Another great CONA forum!” 
“It’s always a red flag when a candidate fails to show up for a CONA forum.” 
“Answers to CONA questions always show if the candidates know their stuff.”
"I was extremely impressed with the probing questions—fine job."
“I am always amazed about how CONA can cover so much ground at their forum.”

   Although we had prepared for more guests for the second forum on April 13 the meeting hall still was filled with a more than capacity crowd. Again, we had to bring out more chairs for those standing. Immediate feedback was equally as rewarding as following the first forum. 

meeting video archive
February 2015 through 2016, Pete Theisen was the official CONA videographer, we are grateful for his contributions to keeping our members and the public informed; 
in 2017 some video was created by others, posting became delayed and follows as possible - on an individual basis - we hope to resume monthly meeting posting soon.

each meeting is posted individually and follows automatically from that link
if divided into parts, unique links to each part may be provided also
April 13, 2015 CONA — runoff candidate forum
Sarasota municipal runoff election for districts 2 and 3 city commission seats
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5
June 8, 2015 CONA — Turning watershed management into beneficial use 
John Ryan - seeking community-based leadership in watershed management Stephen Suau - beneficial uses of storm water
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5
September 14, 2015 - CONA — 2015 SCOPE Community Report Card Road Show
John McCarthy - very interesting data about the community 
​​Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4          also see resources
October 12, 2015 - CONA — Criminalization of mental health 
Larry Eger - a dialogue with our public defender 
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   
November 9, 2015 - CONA — Making neighborhood water features beautiful, natural, and healthy 
Russ Hoffman, Nathan Hoffman - experts on neighborhood ponds and lakes
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3          also see resources

January 11, 2016 - CONA — Understanding the MPO process 
Jim Bennett - past chair, Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization 
Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4          also see government information
October 8, 2012 - CONA — amendments on the election ballot
Terry Turner, Randall Reid, Frank Alcott, Cathy Antunes, Bill Zoller - panel members
Part 1   Part 2

for materials related to a specific meeting topic
after the meeting, go to our resources page and look for the meeting title and date—as more information on the topic becomes available—those links will be updated
( you can help—send suggestions )
February 8, 2016 - CONA — Historic preservation adds value to your home and community  
Lorrie Muldowney - past manager, Historical Resources of Sarasota County
Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4          also see resources
March 14, 2016 - CONA — Compatible development outcome after fifteen years of wrangling on the bayou
James Bridges of Jebco Ventures and his planner, Joel Freedman, join neighbors Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, Kafi Benz, Don Farr, Yvonne Lacey, and Pola Sommers
Part 1    Part 2    Part 3          also see resources
February 9, 2015  - CONA — How Sarasota could become a hub for organic food production - an economic development initiative
Stephen Suau
no video available          but see resources
January 12, 2015  - CONA — Nora Patterson discusses her political career to date; Kafi Benz - member wish lists for CONA to tackle
Nora Patterson
Kafi Benz
​no video available 
neighbors helping neighborhoods since 1961 
​  learn more about CONA

ask a question
by e-mail at

join - donate - renew
leave a message
at the CONA 
contact us page 
April 11, 2016 - CONA - candidate forum - State House of Representatives
moderator, Dan Lobeck
district 72 candidates 
  Sara Kathleen Blackwell, Edward Elliot James III, Alexandra Cynthia Miller
district 73 candidates 
  James T. Golden, Joe Gruters, Steve Vernon  
Part 1    Part 2    Part 3
May 9, 2016 - CONA - candidate forum - State Senator for District 23
moderator, Dan Lobeck
  Frank Cirillo, Doug Holder, Rick Levine, Nora Patterson, Ray Pilon, Greg Steube
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3
June 13, 2016 - CONA - candidate forum - County Commissioners 
  District 1 - Fredd Atkins, Frank DiCicco, Mike Moran 
  District 3 - Nancy Detert
  District 5 - Charles Hines 
Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5 
September 12, 2016 - CONA - ballot proposals - state amendments, county charter review board 
Lourdes Ramirez, chair, League of Women Voters speakers bureau 
Gerry Swormstedt, chair, Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club  
Part 1    Part 2     Part 3  
October 10, 2016 - CONA - candidate forum - county commission D-1 and comprehensive plan update analysis
comp plan update analysis, Dan Lobeck, president, Control Growth Now 
 District 1 - Fredd Atkins, Mike Moran - moderator, William Zoller
Part 1   Part 2    Part 3 
October 15, 2016 - A council of neighborhoods can be a major resource
CONA—Sarasota County Council of Neighborhoods Associations workshop
Twentieth Annual Florida Neighborhoods Conference  
Venice, Florida - October 13, 14, 15, 2016  -  submitted for CAM CE 1 hr credit 
Kafi Benz, Ann Kaplan, Lourdes Ramirez, 
Lorrie Muldowney, Mary Butler, Melanie Goddard 
Part 1    Part 2 

contact us
about the
invitation and
payment options using
check or Paypal
April 10, 2017 - CONA town hall - surplus lands 
and community treasures -- crucial decisions
( with focus on the Celery Fields area )
Adrien Lucas, Rob White, Tom Matrullo, Carlos Correa
video  -  courtesy of David G. Johnson of Grow the Dream
summary  -  courtesy of Citizens for Sarasota County
workshop about CONA presented at the
twentieth annual state convention of neighborhoods