E. Eugene Webb PhD
I've been around local government in Florida on both the West Coast and the East Coast for well over 30 years, but I must admit when I moved to Manatee County, I was absolutely shocked at the amount of good old boys underhanded dealing that goes on.
From the County Commission, where you can openly admit that you violated the law and have all your legal expenses for your defense on a charge for that violation paid for by county taxpayers (Approved by the County Commission) to this current debacle at the Manatee County Building and Development Services Department.
For some details, check out this article from The Bradenton Times by Dennis "Mitch" Maley Saturday, Sep 04, 2021: Chaos at the County Building as Top Officials are Escorted Out.
YourObserver.com by: Jay Heater Managing Editor: Manatee County inspector general's investigation leads to six county employees being placed on administrative leave.
From the YourObserver Article: “The inspector general's investigation involves possible favoritism granted to Mallaranny LLC in improving a 50-acre, agriculturally-zoned property in Myakka City. Mallaranny LLC is managed by Jeremy Croteau, who is president of the Sarasota Medieval Fair.”
I, for one, didn't even know Manatee County had an Inspector General's office. They must be kept down in the basement in a locked room and only let out when things get totally out of control.
With the large number of prominent builders building anything and everything they can as fast as they can in Manatee County, and the very obvious willingness of the Lakewood development folks out at SMR to throw both their money and their political weight around, it's hard to imagine that there aren't a lot of things going on that shouldn't be in Manatee County.
Sooner or later, all of it comes to light.
One of the things that newly minted Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes needs to be extra careful of is that the people who blew the whistle on this crowd of ne’er-do-wells do not suffer any consequences for their courage and desire to bring out the truth. And those of us in the media have an obligation to follow these events carefully and make sure that doesn't happen.
The last thing that needs to go on here is the guys at the top who are responsible for this, do not need to end up back in their plush jobs, hobnobbing with the big players, drinking bourbon, and smoking cigars, while the person that blew the whistle ends up out on the street.
That's been the way it works out a lot of times in Manatee County and now is the time for Dr. Scott Hopes to step up and start cleaning house, because the house is rotten to the very foundation.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.