Sunday, April 26, 2020

Who is calling the Shots in Manatee County?

Tampa Bay, Fl Opinion by: 
E. Eugene Webb PhD
From the Tampa Bay Times by Christopher O'Donnell and Allison Ross:15th in population, Manatee ranks fourth in Florida for COVID-19 deaths
From the Times article, “But even as fatalities and positive cases continue to rise in Manatee, its Republican-controlled Board of County Commissioners has responded to increasing pressure from the public to loosen emergency orders on social distancing and staying at home.
Commissioners recently reopened boat ramps. And on Tuesday — even as the number of positive cases jumped by 70 percent in a week — the board voted 4-3 to repeal a countywide curfew.”
From the Hearld-Tribune By Michael Moore Jr. Staff Writer Manatee County Commission Chair, Betsy Benac, announces she will not seek re-election.
From the Hearld-Tribune article, “Immediately following Benac’s announcement, former Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker sent out a statement saying he would run for Benac’s at-large District 7 position instead of the District 5 seat against Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, as he originally filed to do.
“My experience, especially during these unprecedented times, is best suited to represent the entire county,” Hunzeker said. “I served Manatee County (as administrator) for over 10 years (2007-2019) and helped lead us through the great recession. We can and will get through this together.”
The major problem in Manatee County is it is one of Florida’s fasting growing counties, and it still being managed like Mayberry.
One only needs to drive through Manatee County on the narrow two-lane roads connecting rapidly expanding developments to get a feel for how little control there really is in Manatee County.
In a classic case of political inbreeding, in 2019 County Commissioners confirmed Sherri Coryea County Administrator. Ms. Coryea has 30 years of experience in Manatee County government, with 28 of them in management with Manatee County primarily in the area of Neighborhood Services.
At the time of her confirmation as County Administrator, Mrs. Coryea did not meet the educational requirements nor the experience requirements that were posted when the County did a nationwide search for a new administrator.
This weakness in leadership coupled with a County Commission that is still living in the late 80s at best has significantly contributed to a lackluster approach to the COVID-19 problem.
Still too focused on mom and pop hotels, small businesses and the cries of HOAs and condo association presidents, this County Commission and administration are just woefully in adequate to deal with serious issues on a real-time basis.
Former County Administrator Ed Hunzeker has stepped up to run for the District 7 at-large County commission seat. Mr. Hunzeker was the county administrator for 10 years and was largely responsible for the current conditions in Manatee County.
There is an election coming soon for Manatee County commissioners. It’s time for some changes. Reelecting the same people is simply going to produce the same results.
The County commission needs members who represent the changing nature of Manatee County and the changing demographics.
It’s just simply not Mayberry anymore.
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