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Local elections: Before the campaigns begin

in city hall/news

Campaign season has formally begun in Safety Harbor for the 2020 municipal election. Have you ever considered how the officials in our town get on the ballot?  Most of us are too busy to spend time learning how the process works, so the Safety Harbor Sun is delving into the procedural process to become a candidate in our city. 

Our next municipal elections will be on March 17, 2020, the same day as the national primaries. Safety Harbor typically schedules elections to coincide with presidential primaries and other state and county elections as this offers significant savings on printing and other fees. Safety Harbor will have two open seats; Mayor and Commissioner Seat Four, each of which is a three-year term. All Commissioners and the Mayor are elected in non-partisan, at-large elections. There are no term limits in Safety Harbor.  These are not full-time positions and commissioners typically have continued their careers while serving. Compensation for these positions is:   

  • Mayor:  $9,587.16/annually ($6,000/year + $3,587.16 per diem/year). 
  • Commissioners:  $8,387.16/annually ($4,800/year + $3,587.16 per diem/year

So, how does a resident get on the ballot for the March election?  A potential candidate must be a registered voter and a resident of the city for at least one year. The qualifying period for the upcoming election ran from noon on December 2 to noon on December 9. The qualifying period is when announced candidates have to finalize all the requirements to run for office in Florida. The requirements are mainly dictated by state law and are significant; the handbook runs to hundreds of pages.  

Before December 2, each candidate must purchase the Candidate Handbook for $40, appoint a Campaign Treasurer, designate a depository for a campaign account and submit an official Candidate Statement. This is just the beginning of a list of forms and required fees as mandated by the state of Florida.

Interested candidates meet with City Clerk and Safety Harbor Supervisor of Elections Karen Sammons to review all the requirements and begin the process. Some of the other steps include returning 100 petition cards from registered voters and filing eleven additional forms. There are fees to be paid from the campaign account established for this purpose. They are $160 for Mayor and $123 for Commissioner. Financial statements are required to identify sources of income and disallow someone who may want to profit from their position in government. Campaigns can be financed by the candidate or from declared donations.

Once a person meets all the qualifications for candidacy, they can begin campaigning. Signs may be posted 90 days prior to election (12/18/2019) and must be removed by March 24, 2020. Clearwater and Dunedin have very similar processes for qualification.

There are currently five declared candidates in Safety Harbor. These people have completed the initial steps for candidacy, opened campaign accounts, and submitted the necessary petitions. For Mayor, incumbent Joe Ayoub and Tanja Vidovic are qualified. For Commissioner Seat Four there also three declared candidates; incumbent Carlos Diaz, John Estok, and David Roth.

Residents must be registered by February 18 to vote in the March election.  So far, there are seven voting locations in the city. These election precincts are listed here.

Pinellas County currently has 685,996 Active Registered Voters. Safety Harbor has 13,553, consisting of 4248 Democrats, 5304 Republicans, 3860 with No Party Affiliation and 141 Other.

Statistics courtesy of the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.

CBD products. (Photo/Julie Brannon)

The CBD Conundrum

For a few years now folks have been jumping on the CBD bandwagon faster than fleas can hop on a sleeping hound dog. It’s in high demand as a natural treatment for pain, anxiety, insomnia, GI issues, PTSD, seizure disorders, and other conditions. Many users absolutely swear by it. “It’s helping so many people with so many issues by improving their quality of life,” says Dr. Sangita Patel, PharmD, owner of Sunlife Pharmacy in Palm Harbor. 

Cannabidiol comes from agricultural hemp, not marijuana, and doesn’t get you high. There are literally hundreds of companies producing a dizzying array of CBD products: tinctures, topicals, and gummies, even snack chips, shampoo, and dog food. Geez. This genie isn’t just out of the bottle — it pulled up and moved to Istanbul. But there’s a problem in CBD land. Actually, two BIG problems.

First, CBD is illegal under Federal law. Still, some states — Florida included say it is legal as long as it contains less than .3% THC.  As a natural products retailer this pretty much makes my head spin.  My customers demand it so I supply it, but I’m breaking Federal law in doing so. The odds of the feds coming after me are slim to none, but I’m still taking a risk. I do it for just one reason:  I want to make sure my customers have access to a safe product, manufactured with superior practices, and perhaps most important of all -— with sound, third party scientific testing behind it to ensure quality. Dr. Patel offers a number of CBD products, but she has also carefully vetted the companies that manufacture the products she carries. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for a guy behind the counter at the gas station or some joker selling God-knows-what’s-in-it CBD at the flea market.  With US sales projected to reach 1.8 billion by 2022 you can bet shysters will be cashing in with crappy product as long as they can get away with it, so we shouldn’t underestimate the potential threat to public safety.

And there’s the second problem: CBD products are not currently regulated by the FDA, and as such are not required to be produced under GMP rules (Good Manufacturing Practices) and other regulations established to guarantee safety, purity, and consistent quality.  Personally, I’ll rest easier when the FDA gets off its hands and grants CBD status under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (yes, supplements are indeed regulated by the FDA) but it’s impossible to say if or when that may happen. Natural products associations have been pressuring the FDA to get moving. [Read letters from representatives of these organizations here and here.] Just last month the New Jersey Senate passed a resolution calling on Congress and the President to help protect consumers by setting safety standards for CBD.  But for now it remains the wild, wild, west when it comes to CBD, and buyers must beware. 

Fortunately there are a few very good companies producing very good CBD products, voluntarily using GMP rules. These are the brands I stick with. Same goes for Dr. Patel.  “Just make sure you are buying from health professionals or those who know CBD and can educate you and help you in getting to the right dose,” she adds. Here are some more tips that may help you navigate the possible pitfalls of CBD use.

The most important first step is to determine if you can even take CBD.  Many can’t. Forget it if you’re pregnant or nursing, and if you take any prescription meds at all you must do your homework or the results could be disastrous. For example, Dr. Patel urges caution when taking anti-coagulant medications. See, the body metabolizes toxic compounds and certain drugs through what’s called the cytochrome P-450 pathway. CBD acts like a roadblock on that pathway, which can cause a dangerous build up of drugs in the body. Grapefruit also blocks cytochrome P-450, so the easy litmus test is this: if you can safely eat grapefruit while taking a certain medication, then CBD is probably safe for you. Still, I highly recommend checking with your doctor or pharmacist before using CBD if you take meds or have a serious health condition.

Stick with major brands from reputable stores. Make sure there’s a QR code or lot number on the box, along with a Supplement Facts box that lists every ingredient and specifies the amount of CBD per serving in terms of milligrams (mg’s). It’s a head scratcher, but some companies label their product with the total mg’s of CBD in the bottle. So look for the mg’s per serving. Dr. Patel advises full spectrum, organic, and American grown, from a company that has all its research and quality controls in place.

Scan the QR code or go to the company’s website and look up the lot number. How is the hemp grown? Is it US Hemp Authority certified? What extraction method was used?  Look for third party test results. These should be on the lab’s letterhead, refer to a specific batch, and include a Certificate of Analysis, a Pesticide Report, a Terpenes Profile, and a Heavy Metals report.  All this information will be easily accessible if the product is worth a darn. If it’s not, then drop it like a hot potato.  Oh, and don’t be fooled by ingredients or potencies listed as “proprietary.” That usually means they don’t want you to know what’s in it.  

As far as dosing, one size doesn’t fit all. It’s a matter of finding the dose that gets the job done for you. Quality products will always have a “suggested dose” on the label, but we all have different absorption rates, body weight, and pain tolerances. Research is sparse, but available studies say CBD is generally well tolerated even at very high doses — which I recommend against.  Dr. Patel suggests starting at 20-25mg per dose. “That’s the average dose of a healthy person. Increase it slowly every 3-5 days to see where you get relief, and it’s best to divide your doses throughout the day. CBD lasts about four to six hours so dividing doses will make the effects last longer.” If CBD doesn’t seem to get the job done in a couple of weeks, it’s probably time to try a different approach. Trust me, there are plenty of other natural options available. 

CBD can be a marvelous therapeutic tool for a number of different conditions as long as it’s produced with high standards, has good science behind it, and is used safely. But we have to be educated consumers, and maybe a bit activist.  A letter to your congressman urging the adoption of federal guidelines and safety standards probably wouldn’t hurt.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice, nor is it designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease, nor should it be considered a substitute for the expert care of a qualified health professional.

Chalk mandala from SHAMCgiving, the Third Anniversary of Safety Harbor Art & Music Center. (Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

Harbor Happenings: December 8, 2019

in news/town square
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December 2019

Blues Monday with Al "Coffee" McDaniel

December 8, 2019 @ 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, 105 N. Bayshore Drive
Safety Harbor, Florida 34695 United States
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"Join us every Monday night in the Lobby Lounge for great music. Never a cover charge! Drink and appetizer specials! Live blues by Al "Coffee" McDaniel."

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Market on Main

December 8, 2019 @ 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
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An event every week that begins at 10:00 AM on Sunday, happening 7 times

John Wilson Park & Gazebo, 401 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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SHAMcXmasParty / FreddyandFrancine

December 8, 2019 @ 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Safety Harbor Art & Music Center, 706 2nd Street North
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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SHAMc POP-UP Holiday Party with musical guests FREDDY and FRANCINE, Nashville based Folk-Pop-Americana-Soul duo, in Concert.FREE SHOW • Doors 4PM/ Show 5PM

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SHAC Wednesday Night Run

December 10, 2019 @ 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
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An event every week that begins at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, happening 30 times

Troubled Waters Brewing, 670 Main St.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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"Come join the Safety Harbor Athletic Club for the weekly Wednesday night run! Run Starts at 6pm, goes for 3 miles, and finishes back at the bar for beer specials and food! All ages and abilities welcome. Run/walk at your own pace!" (Facebook)

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Open Mic with Josh Plummer

December 10, 2019 @ 7:30 PM - 11:00 PM
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An event every week that begins at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, happening 17 times

Nolan’s Pub, 230 Main Street
Safety Harbor, Florida 34695 United States
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"Open Mic Night with Josh Plummer. Come play some music and jam with great local musicians, or just listen! Tuesdays signups start at 7:30pm, playing around 8pm!" (Facebook)

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Planning & Zoning Board

December 11, 2019 @ 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
City Hall, 750 Main St.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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The agenda for December's Planning & Zoning Board meeting can be found on the city website: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/AgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=1696

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Wednesday Night Drum Circle

December 11, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
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An event every week that begins at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, happening 30 times

Palm Tree Courtyard, Main Street
Safety Harbor, 34695 United States
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"On Main Street by the Happy Salmon Restaurant in the Palm Tree Court Yard. Drumming is good for you in every way. Come enjoy." (Facebook) Please check the Facebook page for cancellations before heading over.

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Night Tales: Storytelling with Walt Belcher

December 11, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Safety Harbor Art & Music Center, 706 2nd Street North
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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$2

"Come share a 5 to 7 minute story. Tell us about your best gift, or your worst gift. Gifts you gave. Gifts you got. Gifts you want to forget. Embarrassing gifts. Romantic gifts. Weird gifts. Any gifts! "Prize for best story. All ages welcome. $2 donation at the door. Audience members welcome. Doors open at…

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Open Jam Night at Brady's

December 11, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
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An event every week that begins at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, happening 20 times

Brady’s Backyard BBQ, 340 Main St
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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Blues Jam every Wednesday night at Brady's BBQ.

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Melody Artisans of the Crooked Thumb

December 11, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Crooked Thumb Brewery, 555 10th Ave. S.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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"Please join us as our host, Joshua Reilly, invites all songwriters to our space to share their original music. All songwriters will play a few original songs and extra points for any writer who brings a new song on our theme 'Forgetting Songs.'" (Facebook)

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Finance Advisory Committee

December 12, 2019 @ 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
City Hall, 750 Main St.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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Latin Thursday in the Lobby Lounge

December 12, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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An event every week that begins at 7:00 PM on Thursday, happening 4 times

Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, 105 N. Bayshore Drive
Safety Harbor, Florida 34695 United States
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"Come out to our Lobby Lounge every Thursday for a Latin flair! Enjoy the sounds of LIVE Latin music and dance the night away!Don't dance? Don't worry - you will love the music, signature cocktails and lots of fun! Drink & appetizer specials and never a cover charge!" (Facebook)

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Music Video Night / Retro Night

December 13, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Crooked Thumb Brewery, 555 10th Ave. S.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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Music videos from the 80s and 90s all night with VJ Hural Knight! You can dance if you want to...

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Community Yoga

December 14, 2019 @ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
John Wilson Park & Gazebo, 401 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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"Sarah Schaber, RN, E-RYT 200 and Pat Setley, E-RYT 500 of YogaLove Yoga Studio in Safety Harbor lead the community through a fun-filled class that is open to everyone of all ages and levels. This practice will focus on uplifting the spirit, strengthening the body, and calming the mind, using various yoga styles. Come experience…

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Children's Clothing & Toy Exchange

December 14, 2019 @ 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Safety Harbor Art & Music Center, 706 2nd Street North
Safety Harbor, FL 34695 United States
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Gently used and formerly loved clothing, books and toys.After Exchange, clothing will be donated to Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center

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This week’s calendar of local events.

(Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

slash pine and trash

in city hall/photos

The slash pine with a Traveling Tree Walk sign caught my eye as I entered Waterfront Park this morning. Late for any sort of sunrise photo, I decided to make this tree — one of my personal favorites — and its informational sign the focus of today’s photo. I was so focused on the sign that I didn’t initially see the trash in the photo background.

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