Friday, March 5, 2021

Manatee County Commission off the Rails

WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

Just about the time you think things on the Manatee County Commission cannot get any dumber or more convoluted - they do.

Let's follow the sequence of events.

Even before then-current County Administrator Cheri Coryea had worked out a termination agreement, the County Attorney was negotiating for her temporary replacement with former Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines to take an interim position as Manatee County Administrator.

After some soul-searching and more than likely some counseling from friends and political allies, former Commissioner Hines decided to step down from his interest in the interim position.

Sometimes the political tea leaves are just easy to read.

The County commissioners then voted to install deputy County Administrator Karen Stewart as the interim County administrator, but she only agreed to take the job for a month the thinking being she does not want to put herself in a position where she can be fired by the County Commission.

So much for staff trust and confidence in the Manatee County Commission.

The Bradenton Times: County Commission Drags Feet on Interim Administrator

In what must be viewed as only mildly short of insane, the County Commission is now considering Manatee County School Board Member Scott Hopes, who was appointed to the school Board by Governor Rick Scott, and Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance CEO, Dom Dimaio, to serve as interim County administrator until a search for the new County administrator can be completed.

Hopes, while he may be a good administrator, or he may not, is a political appointee of and that comes with a lot of expectations from the governor.

Dimaio, as CEO of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance (Note that is Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, probably spends a significant amount of his time trying to figure out how to beat the County at its own game. His approach to the County Administrator's job would certainly be interesting.

All of this is anticipated to take about a year.

Given the Manatee County Commission's previous approach to making these decisions, it will be a wasted year as whoever they picked from the School Board or from the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance will probably end up as the County Administrator.

In the meantime, Manatee County Commission chairperson Vanessa Baugh’s problems continue to multiply. She's now the subject of an Ethics Commission complaint. See The Sunshine Gazette article By Joe Hendricks Baugh named in vaccine-related ethics complaint

Not too surprisingly the Manatee County Commission approval rating has tanked. See the Bradenton Times: BOCC Approval Rating Plummets  “Out of 450 respondents, 95 percent (428) said they did not (approve), while only 5 percent (22) said that they did.”

All of this might just be so much humorous political theater if it were not for the fact that Manatee County is up to its open drainage ditches and narrow roads in big trouble.

See my Post Manatee County Slowly Killing the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs

While the former Manatee County Administrator spent most of her time playing feel good politics and hanging her staff out to dry for any mistakes, the Chairperson of the County Commission was courting political favors from the governor's office to the management office out at Lakewood Ranch while serving her own personal and political needs.

Who knows what else is going on?

Let's hope the Ethics Commission does its job.

Given the mess here in Manatee County, it is going to be difficult for the County Commission to hire a competent county or municipal administrator. Most of the people in this profession can smell a mess like Manatee County from a mile away.

I would doubt that Manatee County Commission has the courage to buck SMR and the other big developers or the willingness to pay what will be necessary to get a competent administrator to take the position, and that they would be willing to back him or her once they got here.

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