Log in Subscribe
Letter to the Editor

Mayday to Citizens on Sale of City Hall


Hello Editor and fellow citizens,

I want to talk to you about the sale and disposition of Bradenton City Hall which is located on Tallant Park. I also want to tell you about a criminal complaint I filed regarding your rights to attend and Bradenton City Hall's responsibility to provide open meetings in accordance with Florida open meetings law. You were, are and will forever be ripped off by the COB in so many ways. This is one, big, fifty-million-dollar ripoff.

The COB held ten community meetings located around the city to discuss the project of moving city hall and the adjoining Bradenton Police Department. The plan was also to sell the parkland to a developer for a twenty-story condo on your park.

Here's the problem(s):

Each meeting violated multiple requirements of the Florida Open Meetings Law. The violations include accessibility, timely, noticed meetings, properly displayed on the official COB website, proper venue locations, changing of public presentations from meeting to meeting, speech unreasonably restricted, requiring citizens to state their name and whether or not they were resident taxpayers of the COB, no notice of one meeting, no reasonable notice of other meetings, meeting notices disappearing, meeting records not made or not retained as required by law, and none of these community meetings were recorded or minutes taken. West side (mainly white) meetings had no police presence, while meetings in the east side predominantly black and brown, poor, had police at their meetings. Meetings were held in bars and small restaurants too. Citizens were threatened by city administrator Robert Perry at one meeting that 'if city hall is not sold constituents would face tax increases'. Guess what? At first city hall said the move was 'paid for'. They even had banners at meetings that also stated the same thing. Now the price tag is 50-60 million. Constituents will face tax and service increases anyway. Big increases. Thus the big ripoff you will pay for.

The COB also held a regular city council meeting in which they "ranked" the developers' proposals. Of course, NDC was ranked #1. The agenda that morning said all who wanted to speak would have three minutes. After citizens wrote, rehearsed, and researched their comments to three minutes, the day of the meeting Mayor Brown limited comments to two minutes thus cutting off their comments and free speech against the agenda directions and right to redress government. Not that COB cares to listen. Otherwise, the full three minutes would have been allowed.

That sums up the meetings, though a more complex explanation is available that's all I can explain briefly here.

Now to the complaint I filed:

First, I filed a multiple open meetings complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics on March 1, 2023. Within a week the FCOE returned my complaint with a letter that stated, "...the Florida Commission on Ethics does not have jurisdiction over possible violations of Sunshine Law. Those laws carry criminal penalties and are administered through law enforcement and the State Attorney's Offices." Okay, good to know.

My next step was to ask the Manatee SAO where to file it with the Manatee Sheriff's Office or the Bradenton Police Department in the city where it happened. I was advised by the SAO to file with MSO as it would be a conflict for BPD to investigate its own agency. I did that. The case number at MSO is, 2023005911, and here

When I checked the complaint status a couple of weeks later, I learned it had been hand-delivered to the BPD lead investigator Detective Starnes then handed off to BPD detective Lieutenant DeHaise who also happens to be head of internal affairs. Just lovely.

In the meantime, I requested and received meeting sign-in sheets, meeting comment cards, and comments from the COB's online presentation. They are provided in my attachments to this letter. I then proceeded to BPD to give DeHaise this additional evidence along with an additional city council meeting complaint. I requested a case number numerous times that day and over the next weeks, I am still asking but have received none. No victim brochure either. Every citizen in Bradenton is a victim.

Next DeHaise said he gave my complaint to his supervisor which should ultimately be Chief Bevins, but instead, it was Paul Driscoll attorney for the BPD.

On the phone, Driscoll said DeHaise walked my complaint to the State Attorney's office of Ed Brodsky. Brodsky's office assures me they do NOT accept hand-delivered complaints from anyone or any agency. They must have a case number to enter the SAO system. I still check regularly in hopes the SAO has the complaint.

Then in the same conversation, Driscoll said he had hand-delivered it to SAO. What's the truth? Who if anyone delivered it? I hate lies, it's a pet peeve. Especially lies from public officials and lawyers. I believe a violation of USC§ 242, regarding corrupt police conduct under color of law, may apply here. DOJ knows. FDLE too.

The truth is this Sunshine Law shuffle has been going on since March 14, 2023. This is August 25, 2023, more than five months after filing with MSO. Unacceptable. MSO should have investigated but declined as it happened in the COB. The reason they should have kept the complaint is because though it happened in the COB, it named the the mayor and city council as defendants. BPD cannot investigate their own agency.

What is really happening is a cover-up of my criminal complaint because it is right on point. City Hall doesn't want you to know. City Hall officials who colluded to arrange these meetings might face criminal charges. Fines. Probation. Time. It might invalidate the development proposal and then city hall would have to start over. Not only does attorney Driscoll change his story but his word seems lacking. I was promised an update Tuesday, I am still waiting on today.

Now FDLE is involved. And DOJ. The DOJ complaint number is 333144WNQ . DOJ refers cases to the FBI.

Hear this City Of Bradenton.....


You are only digging a deeper hole to fall into. This is about the common good, something you never seem to understand. The common good. For all Americans. Not just for your political, legacy, fame, or power good.

The COB has a record of violating the open meetings laws as explained in the Government in the Sunshine Manual. See Leach Wells v the City of Bradenton. In that court ruling the COB had decided outside a public meeting (no meeting at all) to choose the developer who would originally build the city hall. The same developer twenty years later wants the same property so he can tear down the twenty-three-year-old dilapidated city hall and replace it with a condo on a city park.

I need your help, folks. This complaint is about your fundamental, constitutional rights. All Americans. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. It must stop, one town at a time. Please share this story with your friends, and other media, call BPD and the state attorney, and insist this complaint regarding your rights be given proper investigation. Call FDLE and DOJ too. Even the White House. If you are mad or upset about anything at all these are proper venues to vent.

How many American rights are you willing to keep or lose? It's up to you. Time to serve your country if you haven't already. Thanks if you have.

A friend and former employer, Chuck Chambers of Chambers Investigations wrote a book called The Private Detectives Handbook. I think of it as his legacy. I use it as a guide to keep an eye on public officials. It's legal folks and just think of all those tiny wifi cameras available now. Let's get creative when officials are on or off the clock.

Barbara Elliott


No comments on this item

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