BRADENTON – In a shocking coup during Tuesday’s Manatee County Commission Meeting, a majority of the commissioners successfully removed Kevin Van Ostenbridge as chair, voting to reinstall Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who just 10 weeks ago admitted to corruptly abusing her authority via her role in Vaccinegate.
The motion was made during commissioner comments by Jason Bearden, who was elected to an at-large seat in November. Bearden claimed that he had too often been unable to access information through staff who he said had been trained to only communicate with certain people. Bearden’s concerns were echoed by commissioners James Satcher and Amanda Ballard.
Baugh said that while she did not relish the idea of such a change, she would do whatever a majority of the board decided, adding that she too felt that Van Ostebridge would too often "run the show" and then come back to the board once decisions had been made. However, when her six fellow Republican commissioners indicated that they were split on the issue, it was Baugh herself who would cast the deciding vote.
The final vote was 4-3 with commissioners Rhan, Kruse, and Van Ostebridge dissenting. During the same meeting, commissioners also voted 6-1 (Kruse dissenting) to have the county attorney’s office begin negotiations with Jon Mast, CEO of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association to replace Lee Washington as the "interim" Manatee County Administrator.
Read more in tomorrow’s edition of The Bradenton Times.