Log in Subscribe

BOCC Votes to Remove Historical Resources from Clerk's Oversite


BRADENTON — During Tuesday's meeting, Manatee County Commissioners voted 6-1 to remove the oversite of the historical resources department from the county clerk & comptroller and place it beneath the county's sports & leisure services department.

Commissioner Amanda Ballard praised the department's offerings but alleged that it had done a poor job of communicating its programming to the public. Ballard offered no proof and relied only on anecdotal experience she said she had observed while visiting the sites with her children. County staff said that it felt it could do a much better job of marketing the resources to citizens and tourists.

The historical resources department oversees the Manatee Village Historical Park, the Palmetto Historical Park, the Manatee County Agricultural Museum, the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez and the Historical Records Library at the 1918 Carnegie Library downtown.

Despite the fact that no previous discussion had taken place either by the board or between relevant departments, the item was added to the meeting's agenda Friday evening after the deadline to submit written public comment had already passed. Nevertheless, a number of people showed up to give comments in person, none of whom were supportive of the plan.

Most notably, Carol and Elizabeth Shore (the widow and daughter of former Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller R.B. "Chips" Shore) passionately asked the board not to make what they felt would be a devastating change to a department Shore had worked so diligently to help build.


In 1983, Shore was approached by the Manatee County Historical Commission to assist with the operations of Manatee Village Historical Park. The commission had been formed during the United States Bicentennial in 1976 and had been functioning under the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department.

Retired Director of Historical Resources Cathy Slusser says that the historical commission and park staff were having difficulty working with parks and recreation, a department unfamiliar with the needs of historic buildings and historic preservation in general. She said they looked to Shore, who had long recognized the importance of preserving Manatee County’s history and was in the process of creating the Manatee County Historical Records Library, which became the first library of its kind in Florida.

As a result of the successful partnership, other historical organizations in the community requested to be placed under the department, with the Palmetto Historical Park (owned and operated by the City of Palmetto and the Palmetto Historical Commission), the Manatee County Agricultural Museum (operated by the Manatee County Agricultural Museum Board) and the Florida Maritime Museum (owned by Manatee County) ultimately coming under its umbrella.

Feud between chair and clerk

Manatee County Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge has been engaged in a feud with Manatee County Clerk & Comptroller Angelina Colonneso since being elected in Nov. of 2020. On his first meeting after being sworn in, Van Ostenbridge made a motion to fire then-county administrator Cheri Coryea. Colonneso urged the board, which contained three newly-elected commissioners, not to move hastily on such a potentially impactful vote.

Giving such input seemed to strain her relationship with the new board majority. The relationship became even more contentious when, during an audit, the inspector general department (which is also under the supervision of the clerk & comptroller) flagged a transaction Van Ostenbridge had made with his county P-Card to purchase detailed voter data of constituents within his district. Van Ostenbridge initially refused to repay the expense before acquiescing once the matter became public.

Looking for a reason

Commissioner George Kruse tried to get an answer as to who exactly had asked for the change. Kruse also asked what steps had been taken to explore whether it would be advantageous and what would be involved in such a move. The closest he got to answers was that the move had been initiated by former county administrator Scott Hopes—whom the board parted ways with all the way back in January—and that there had been no communication whatsoever with the department or the clerk. As to why there was suddenly a sense of such tremendous urgency that it had to be added so late and without discussion, no answer was given.

The board voted 6-1 to approve the motion, with Kruse dissenting.


6 comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.

  • Charlene

    Maybe if they hadn't spent the year trying to defund the Clerk's office, it might have had a more robust operation. But the internecine politicking by these vile, petty people is just hurting the county. And of course, they clearly broke Sunshine laws again.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Report this

  • EPG2002

    So are they gonna start sticking confederate monuments all over the county now?

    Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Report this

  • Cat L

    KVO is disappointingly petty, so it isn't a surprise to see him destroying yet another persons career... Not entirely convinced he has a conscience going on in there.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Report this

  • andreart

    These Commissioners have no idea what they just did.......

    Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    If the Sunshine Law was clearly broken, file a complaint with law enforcement. Sunshine Law violations carry criminal penalties. Watch your complaint carefully as law enforcement and Eduardo Brodsky will try to bury or spin it to oblivion. Law enforcement acting under color of law to deceive and lie about victim complaints violates federal statutes. Good luck. I'm still working on mine regarding the sale and disposition of Bradenton City Hall. There are more than one way to hold officials accountable.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Report this

  • Mtmartin

    KVO operates at such a low level it is useless to attempt to apply any reason to what he does. He is a cheap rental car for developers to get what they want. They get millions and he gets peanuts, but he is too dull to know. A real disappointment is Commissioner Bearden, who at one point took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. He has abandoned all values taught by his mentors in the Marine Corps for some package of bundled benefits from corrupt developers.

    Thursday, September 14, 2023 Report this