BRADENTON – In the aftermath of what seems like a constant onslaught of scandals, public confidence in the Manatee County Commission has sunken to what is likely an all-time low.
In last week's Bradenton Times Poll, we asked readers whether they approved of the job being done by the Manatee County Commission. Out of 450 respondents, 95 percent (428) said they did not, while only 5 percent (22) said that they did.
The poll uses IP addresses to prevent the same device from participating more than once. Those who attempt to vote again receive a modified result pop-up that informs them they've already voted.
The poll came during a scandal-ridden week for the board, which declined to remove Commissioner Vanessa Baugh as its chair, despite Baugh having brought national shame to the commission after creating a so-called "VIP" list (that included her own name) for COVID vaccinations, despite that the board had voted to use a random lottery.
Despite public protests calling for Baugh's resignation, the commissioner refused to step down. After voting 4-3 to keep Baugh as chair (commissioner Whitmore, Servia, and Bellamy voted to have her removed), the majority faction of commissioners Baugh, Van Ostenbridge, Satcher and Kruse, voted to get rid of much-liked county administrator Cheri Coryea in order to bring in an administrator who is closer to their "conservative ideology."
photo by Allan Mestel
While Baugh's actions did not impact her status as commission chair, they are currently under investigation by the Manatee Sheriff's Office, while a complaint has also been filed with the ethics commission.
Critics contend that Baugh clearly violated state statutes that prohibit elected officials from using their office for personal gain while also violating board policy, which prevents commissioners (whose only authority comes via a majority vote of the board) from directing the actions of county staff. Baugh directed Public Safety Director Jake Saur to add herself and four others to the list while limiting the "random" lottery to two zip codes in her district.