Friday's letters: Asplen boosted morale, danger of fascism, future is vegan

Superintendent Brennan Asplen congratulates graduate Matthew Cazares at the May 2022 commencement ceremony for Oak Park School, in Sarasota. Oak Park School serves students with special needs.
Superintendent Brennan Asplen congratulates graduate Matthew Cazares at the May 2022 commencement ceremony for Oak Park School, in Sarasota. Oak Park School serves students with special needs.

Asplen: Steady hand of leadership

“Thank you for being a positive, professional educator for our students.” These are words Dr. Brennan Asplen, superintendent of Sarasota County schools, said to me and I can’t think of a better way to describe his leadership.

Asplen was hired in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, and provided a steady hand of leadership during uncertain times. His first year was spent building relationships with students, parents and teachers, while familiarizing himself with the traditions of our school district.

With “On the Move,” proactive communication and relationship building, Asplen accentuated the positive within the district and boosted the morale of our teachers while strengthening the confidence students and their families have in the Sarasota County schools.

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His leadership during Hurricane Ian can be summed up in two words: servant leadership. He put the needs of the community at the heart of every decision.

Looking to the future, his vision for shared leadership in our schools, through professional learning communities, will create educational environments that address the unique needs of each school community.

I encourage my colleagues, students, their parents and community members to let the School Board know how much they appreciate and value Asplen.

Seth Gardner, parent, 2010 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year, Nokomis

Threat from fascism, not protests

OMG, I am scared. And any defender of democracy in Florida should be too.

First, the order came to “cleanse” our history. Then the banning of books. Now the proposed rules change to ban protests at our state Capitol. (“Plans in the works to limit public protest at state Capitol,” Nov. 27).

It’s like our extremist leaders never read the First Amendment. And some of these folks think Jan. 6 was OK!

This is real, people. This is not Ronald Reagan. This is not Barry Goldwater. These are not conservatives doing this.

Wake up, Sarasota. Wake up, Florida.  We must speak up.

Protest is not evil. Fascism is evil! We are in danger in fascist Florida.

Call state Sen. Joe Gruters and Reps. Fiona McFarland and Tommy Gregory, et al, and tell them how you feel. Don’t let up.

Lou Grossman, Sarasota

Vegan meat will beat rival in near future

Re “Beyond Meat is Struggling,” Nov. 28: Let’s not rush to put a stake into the heart of the plant-based meat industry just yet (pun intended).

The main reason for the lackluster performance is price, and that will change dramatically in the not-too-distant future.

Animal agriculture is incredibly inefficient: Upward of 10 pounds of grains and legumes are required to produce a pound of meat. As the price of animal feed skyrockets due to climate change, which is driven in large part by animal agriculture, the price of animal products will soar.

Meanwhile, increased efficiencies, new technologies and scaling will hold down the cost of plant-based meats, even as commodity prices rise exponentially. And while they are already fooling even the most refined of palates, taste will improve and new textures will be introduced.

Vegan meats will eventually cost less than their counterparts, and that’s when we’ll see a paradigm shift leading to market domination. It is the same path we are seeing regarding electric vehicles.

And that day can't come too soon for the sake of the planet and the animals, who suffer unthinkable cruelties at factory farms and slaughterhouses. The future is vegan.

Stewart David, Venice

Biden can be counted on in crisis

It seems like every few days something happens that reminds us how fortunate we are to have a stable, thoughtful president who surrounds himself with capable people.

The most recent reminder came Nov. 15 when a missile strike killed two people in Poland. There were unsubstantiated claims that the bombing was caused by Russia.

While at a meeting with G-20 leaders in Indonesia, an impromptu G-7 meeting was held to discuss the matter. After that meeting, President Joe Biden said, “We agreed to support Poland’s investigation into the explosion … And I’m going to make sure we figure out exactly what happened. Then we’re going to collectively determine our next step as we investigate and proceed.”

The president went on to pledge full support for Poland, our NATO ally, as it investigates the incident.

The president of Poland maintains that his government still doesn’t know who fired the missile. Given the murky uncertainties of war, such lack of clarity shouldn’t surprise us.

What is comforting and reassuring, however, is that President Biden and his team are calmly and thoughtfully working with our allies to get to the bottom of the situation and to take corrective steps as needed.

Karen Aylor, Port Charlotte

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Asplen has provided steady leadership, fascism evil, not protests