Colonneso Warns County Commission Ahead of Administrator Vote

County Administrator Scott Hopes
County Administrator Scott Hopes
Staff Report
BRADENTON — Angel Colonneso, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller for Manatee County, sent Manatee County Commissioners a scathing letter on Friday afternoon detailing serious concerns with Scott Hopes' performance as county administrator, just ahead of a board discussion as to whether or not his contract should be extended.

"I very recently learned of the upcoming item on the BCC Agenda for 5/24/22 regarding the contract of your county administrator," wrote Colonneso, in a letter that was also copied to state representative Will Robinson. "My letter accompanying this email describes issues that I have been monitoring and I felt that you should have this information before you take up this item on Tuesday."

Colonneso outlines serious concerns regarding poor communication, a lack of transparency, chaos caused by rapid turnover and the reorganization of staff and departments, and "fiscal responsibility" issues, which seemed to indicate the potential for malfeasance. In her dual role as comptroller, the clerk is essentially the chief accountant for county government. 

Colonneso also referenced serious fiscal concerns, including that the county seemed to be trying to "mirror" what would have been its payment into the Florida Retirement System for Deputy County Administrator Rob Reishuttle into a deferred compensation account because he had already retired from a state position with FRS benefits. Colonneso said that such a policy decision could only be made by the board, which had never voted on the matter.

The clerk also echoed rumors that the county had purchased a luxury SUV for its vehicle "pool" that is exclusively used by Hopes, despite the administrator receiving a $450 monthly reimbursement for using his own vehicle to drive to work, in addition to his base salary of around $209,000 and many additional fringe benefits.

Click here to read the letter in full. 

editor's note: a correction was made to this article to paragraph four which initially misinterpreted the clerk's letter and stated that the county was paying into two retirement accounts.

Reader Comments
Sandra Johnson
MAY 22, 2022  •  I am a new resident in Manatee County, but worked in this county and Sarasota for 30 years. So disappointing to hear these indignities by supposed “professionals.! Accountability is lacking as a usual process when these problems erupt like a volcano. Ethics, Human Resources and Code of Conduct need to be followed. This is what happens when the “fox”?is in charge of the chicken yard. Shame on all parties. Disappointing but not surprising from the general rumors I have regarding the county courthouse and things going on there. Is there anyone in charge?
MAY 22, 2022  •  Thank you, Angel, for putting citizens first. She doesn’t even need a public information spinner to say that for her. Imagine that……a lifelong republican doing her job. I have watched her race to more than one BoCC meeting to set the record straight, which is why I voted for this republican. I just hope that the majority of the “new do-nothing republicans” on the board see the light and choose not to renew Hopes contract or we are all doomed.
Scott G Bassett
MAY 21, 2022  •  What was joke the commissioners and executive are. Hopes wastes money. Kruse drives drunk, wraps his truck around a tree, and gets away with it. Baugh has an ethics hearing coming up And KVO is so corrupt he can't even see the problems.
Paul Finer
MAY 21, 2022  •  From the county IG website: "1) What is the primary function of the Division of Inspector General? The primary function of the Division of Inspector General is to perform financial, compliance and operational audits of Departments under the Board of County Commissioners and other agencies receiving funds from the Board of County Commissioners. The Inspector General provides independent, objective assurance and consulting services which are designed to add value and improve the operations of Manatee County Government. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes."
Paul Fimer
MAY 21, 2022  •  From another site: "KVO has responded to the Colonesso letter, and I believe Angel should have the county support as he is on the attack. Here it is: “As Chairman of the Manatee County Commission, I will not sit idly by while an elected official abuses the status of her office to attack one of our county employees. The Clerk’s letter is strategic and politically motivated. Recently, light has been shed on Miss Colonnesso’s actions as Clerk which resulted in the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars. Miss Colonnesso has chosen not to face the music and take responsibility for her own actions. Instead, she has taken a page from the Joe Biden playbook and is pointing a finger at others to distract from her failures. This political stunt attempts to undermine the sovereignty of our Board of County Commissioners. Manatee County taxpayers deserve better from their Clerk.”
MAY 21, 2022  •  If it wasn’t so outrageous it would be almost funny. A CONSERVATIVE elected official doing her job is being slammed by the politicians and their handler in charge because she did her job CONSERVATIVELY investing the Counties funds (hey no issues moving as they have spent most of the reserves). Stay strong Angel-we know you are doing your job and we see through the smear campaign as you point out the TRUTH!
The Queen of Diamonds
MAY 21, 2022  •  “BobSpencer” is part of Scott Hopes troll farm, I see. What’s this about that Scotty wants to be school superintendent next? I mean…the school board is compromised though and especially the Forehead Messenger chick and the Rev.
Lynn Aragon
MAY 21, 2022  •  Angel needs to receive the Key to the City or similar award for outstanding work ethic. Vote them all out, prosecute if possible, ask for resignation. Let’s back her up and get this right. Unbelievable use of us taxpayers good will and money. Shame on all of them!
Richard Correnti
MAY 21, 2022  •  Part of an email I sent to County Commissioners on 11/23/20. Perhaps it's time for the Commission to bring Cheri back, at a salary of $300K. It would save the County dollars!! Commissioners, My name is Richard Correnti. I am, and have been for 64 years, a loyal Republican. Working in several executive roles I came to understand the essence of management, leadership, teamwork,…and politics,…and what it means to the successful operation of organizations. I am writing to express my dismay at the movement to fire County Administrator Cheri Coryea at the first meeting of the Commission. Those of you who are new have not even observed her performance, except perhaps from a distance. Certainly, there are instances when such action could be warranted and reasonable,…in the instance of illegal, unethical or other egregious acts on her part. However, none of these are evident in this case. On the contrary, this is a public servant, who has spent 30+ years serving the county in the most exemplary of ways. She is respected,…indeed admired,…by individuals throughout the County, and particularly by those whom she leads in her administrative capacity. That, along with significant achievements in her various responsibilities, is what good management and leadership are all about. Why then, would all this be disregarded, by such an arbitrary and spontaneous action? It certainly couldn’t be a single “land deal” which was passed by your previous Commission, not orchestrated singly by her. There have to be other reasons, which raise the suspicion of pre-planning, collusion and ulterior motives,…actions which I highly doubt were in the minds of the electorate which voted you into office. Such an arbitrary action on your part, as representatives of the voters of Manatee County, requires thorough study, consideration and discussion. Removing a person of this stature, quality, experience and loyalty from this highly critical position will have ramifications for years for this County. It should not be done in a day, a week, a month. Those of you who are newly elected have not yet had the opportunity to warm the seats you sit on and you are possibly making a decision which has MAJOR ramifications for the County,…and it’s residents, for the immediate, and long term future. I call on you to exercise the judgement, responsibility, achievement which have characterized Ms. Coryea’s performance for more than 30 years and to work with her to legislate in the best interests of Manatee County, and it’s residents.
MAY 21, 2022  •  1. Special interest purchases candidate seats 2. Puppet candidates win seats and immediately act on the pre-decided plan to fire admin 3. Puppet candidate who called meeting for purpose of firing admin also backs her replacement. (He knows a guy) 4. Replacement proceeds to destroy the org and piss away tax payer moneys Which commissioners voted to fire admin? Which commissioners voted to hire the current one? There needs to be an investigation into how all of this got to where it is in the first place. IG? State Attorney? Go back and Investigate!!!!!
MAY 21, 2022  •  One more time that the “Conservatives” are found to be anything but conservation. Spending $230,000 PLUS car allowance PLUS maximum retirement fund PLUS funding a separate retirement account for one of 4(?) deputies, SPENDING ALL THE RESERVES, taking on significant debt IN THE MOST INFLATIONARY period in decades-scrambling to find employees (600+\~) resigned since Hopes took over??) so that need to pay them big $$, rooms at the Ritz-yet Bob Spencer calls Angel a democrat??? Thank you Angel for standing up to speak on behalf of the taxpayers and not these get Rick quick politicians!!
MAY 21, 2022  •  Sounds like it is time to "Drain the Swamp"!!!
Nikki Velazquez
MAY 21, 2022  •  Thank you to Angel for sharing this information. I hope this doesn't put a target on her back. Hopes is a con man who should be fired. A luxury SUV on the taxpayer dime? Two retirement accounts for the deputy administrator? I don't appreciate my tax money being wasted!
MAY 20, 2022  •  BobSpencer, tell us you're an unprincipled partisan hack without telling us that you're an unprincipled partisan hack, willya? Show us on the doll where the big bad Democrat touched you... I thought conservatives cared about good government and wasteful spending... but let me guess, that only applies when Democrats are in power, right? News flash: almost the entire county is run by Republicans. It's not a partisan issue.
MAY 20, 2022  •  Really Bob??? The level of delusion is impressive. You read that entire 3 page letter and THAT was your take away!? It's a "leftist plot" This disaster is in our own house of our own making, and until we realize that FACT it will be more the same.
MAY 20, 2022  •  Time to get rid of the Democrat Angel She is working with the Democrats on county commission to screw the taxpayers
Ken Piper
MAY 20, 2022  •  Now the shell game begins. We will have seven shells and try to guess where the responsibility "pea" is. There should be a "pea" under each shell but I bet we will be told the "peas" are elsewhere. A few weeks ago Carol Whitmore told Mr. Hopes in no uncertain terms, "We set policy." She was referring to the attempt of Hopes along with commissioner Satcher to surreptitiously acquire property at the end of Mocassin Wallow and 301 without prior BOCC approval. Setting policy is the sole responsibility of the BOCC. Establishing checks and balances to assure policy is carried out is also the responsibility of the BOCC. The BOCC has failed us miserably in that regard. That failure is not the fault of Mr. Hopes. That failure lies under each one of those 7 shells that each commissioner is responsible for and for which they owe all of us an explanation.
MAY 20, 2022  •  I wish I could write that I find this all surprising, but I don't. There were many citizens who warned the bcc not to hire Hopes. Renember voters, this is KVO guy!
MAY 20, 2022  •  I applaud your integrity to stick to the position you are hired to do, and hold accountable items and persons who do not respect taxpayer funds. Bravo!
MAY 20, 2022  •  It is time to clean up our county government and stand up for the citizens who have been shutdown and shutout by the BOCC.
Paul Finer
MAY 20, 2022  •  The "money quote": "the county had purchased a luxury SUV for its vehicle "pool" that is exclusively used by Hopes, despite the administrator receiving a $450 monthly reimbursement for using his own vehicle to drive to work, in addition to his base salary of around $209,000 and many additional fringe benefits."
Paul Finer
MAY 20, 2022  •  SUVgate
Cat Lubin
MAY 20, 2022  •  Woa....! That's some shady business!
MAY 20, 2022  •  re: Andre Gurses seriously!? who cares what kind of car it was, it is wasting OUR tax dollars when he already is overpaid and gets a free gas pass for his own car! Just more spending to be told, plenty spending we'll never know about but we sure do pay for EVERY one of them! Overpaid salaries and no term limits for filling their pockets for years. Deny all they want we are NOT stupid nor blind! Very sad they get away with so much!
MAY 20, 2022  •  Go Angel!
MAY 20, 2022  •  GOOD GRIEF!!! Are we ever going to get it right?????
Alene Gauthier
MAY 20, 2022  •  Thank you, Angel Colonnesso, for your concerns for our county and your follow-through. Hopefully, your commitment to correcting the corruption in Manatee County will allow our community to begin with a clean slate and commitment to honor her citizens with complete transparency and honesty.
Debby Pellom
MAY 20, 2022  •  This whole BOCC is an EMBARRASSMENT..Hope needs to go..We are always in the news
Walter Cherok
MAY 20, 2022  •  Another example of being above the tax payers and the law. Ms.Colonneso needs to watch her back now.
David Levin
MAY 20, 2022  •  She should have transmitted that letter to the local area developers too. They're the ones who make decisions around here XD
Paul Finer
MAY 20, 2022  •  FINALLY!!! Which Clerk/Comptroller/Inspector General will we have? Puppy or, in Reagan's words, mean as a Junkyard Dog?
Barbara A. Angelucci
MAY 20, 2022  •  He was never qualified to be a county administrator. No integrity, transparency and lack of administrative skills.
Ruth Lawler
MAY 20, 2022  •  Thank you so much, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ms. Colonneso! It is critical and refreshing to have checks and balances, oversight at all levels and accountability of TAXPAYERS' money. I so hope that the County Commissioners take this seriously and undertake appropriate action.
MAY 20, 2022  •  Wow, just wow! Someone stands up to the corruption and incompetence.
Andre Gurses
MAY 20, 2022  •  News: purchased a luxury SUV !!! OK, me thinks, if it was a Mercedes or a BMW or even an AUDI, I say good choice. If it was a Cadillac, I say BAD choice, and if it was one of those silly Electrics, then BOOO !!