County Planning Manager Submits Resignation

County Planning Section Manager, Lisa Wenzel, gives a presentation to county commissioners at the commission's March land-use meeting.
County Planning Section Manager, Lisa Wenzel, gives a presentation to county commissioners at the commission's March land-use meeting.
Dawn Kitterman
BRADENTON — Long-time Manatee County employee Lisa Wenzel announced her resignation in an email addressed to county officials this week. Wenzel is the Planning Section Manager in the Comprehensive Planning Division of the Department of Development Services. She was hired by the county in 1998.

In a resignation email obtained by TBT, Wenzel described the work environment within the county’s Development Services department as "volatile and hostile." The department is currently under the direction of Courtney De Pol who was hired to the position of department director in January of 2022 by the county's new administrator, Scott Hopes. 

Wenzel is one of several employees to have resigned from their positions or who have been removed since Hopes' appointment by the county commission to the role of county administrator. The publicly stated agenda of some sitting commissioners and incoming Administrator Hopes was a "revamp" and reorganization of county government—a process which infamously began before Hopes' arrival with the unpopular removal of the former county administrator, Cheri Coryea. 

Many of the positions that have seen turnover or rearrangement are management and director roles and most include tenured employees. However, not every exiting employee publicly claimed to have done so under duress, as Wenzel did. Some who vacated did so through filing for retirement. 

"I am not averse to change," Wenzel wrote of her resignation, "but have in fact embraced it, as I have experienced four different county administrators, and four different directors during my tenure." Wenzel also included reference to her record as a county employee, writing, "My career speaks for itself and is evident in my employee performance evaluations." 

Wenzel detailed recent interactions with department director De Pol in which Wenzel classified her director's management as "militant and unprofessional." The county recently announced changes to the Department of Building and Development Services, rebranding it to the new Department of Development Services. Wenzel provided her opinion in the resignation email that a lack of professionalism and militant style of management will be the "pitfall" of the new department being created. 

Wenzel concluded her resignation announcement with these closing comments: "I take pride in my accomplishments and how hard I have worked for Manatee County; however, I cannot continue to be treated disrespectfully by you. Again, I am resigning at no choice of my own, but due to the hostile environment you are fostering. My health and wellbeing are more important than continuing my service with Manatee County."

The resignation announcement email was obtained by TBT through a public record request. The email was addressed to Director of Development Services Courtney De Pol, and carbon copied to County Administrator Scott Hopes, all county commissioners, and Deputy County Administrators Jan Brewer, Robert Reinshuttle, and Charlie Bishop. Acting Director of Human Resources Julie Bassett and Clerk Comptroller Angelina Colonneso were also recipients. The resignation is effective March 21, 2022. 

TBT reached out via email to county administration and head of public relations for comment, as well as Lisa Wenzel. No party provided additional comment on the matter by the time of this reporting.

Reader Comments
Alicia Fretz
MAR 10, 2022  •  It is becoming more and more evident the disingenuous effort by Manatee County leadership to foster a collaborative work environment, a transparent agenda where the community is engaged or cohesion of any sort. It’s a spectacle more than anything else…what’s next? Who has the strength to right the sinking ship???
Scott Woodworth
MAR 09, 2022  •  poor, poor people...
Bill Sanders
MAR 09, 2022  •  Come to the City of Bradenton
MAR 09, 2022  •  If everyone just quietly leaves one by one the residents of this county will never be the wiser. Thank you for your service to the county Mrs Wenzel and thank you for taking the time to detail in a public record why you feel forced to leave after 25 years of service.
MAR 08, 2022  •  It's all going to plan - that plan being to drive out all the competent, long-term employees who might present any sort of check on the avarice of our developer overlords. And, while props are due to Wenzel for her courage, word to the wise: generally speaking, although it's so very tempting to click Send on that f-you email to all your bosses on the way out the door... usually, it's better if you don't.