Manatee clerk raises 'grave concerns' about how Administrator Scott Hopes is running county government
On eve of possible contract extension for Hopes, Colonneso warns commission about 'repeated troubling events.'
Angelina “Angel” Colonneso, the most powerful Manatee County official you may never have heard about, on Friday fired a powerful shot across the bow of county government, raising serious questions about how Administrator Scott Hopes is running the county.
On the eve of the county commission considering next week whether to extend Hopes’ contract, Colonneso, the county’s elected clerk and comptroller, wrote commission chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge to warn “about repeated troubling events that continue to happen involving your county administrator of which you may not be aware.”
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As county clerk and comptroller, Colonneso’s agency plays a major role in the county government’s financial operations and management of its records. She wrote in the letter that she has referred some of her concerns to county inspector general’s office, which she oversees, for further investigation.
In the letter to Van Ostenbridge, Colonneso raised concerns about how Hopes communicates with the clerk’s office; his negative reaction when he learned the clerk’s office had responded to a particular request for public records; the fiscal risks posed by recent reorganizations of county government; and money the county is contributing to a deputy county administrator’s retirement account and the purchase of a $46,000 SUV for use by Hopes despite he also receiving a $450 a month car allowance.
“I have grave concerns on the efficient operation and transparency in government to our citizens,” Colonnseo wrote. “Given my observations, these matters and those yet to be discovered, could create a significant cost to the taxpayers that are unquantifiable at this time.”
The Bradenton Times was the first to report on the letter.
Hopes was hired as as administrator last year after the commission voted 4-3 to fire his predecessor, Cheri Coryea. On Tuesday, the commission is scheduled to consider a proposal to extend his contract until Sept. 30, 2024, with a salary of $230,000 a year. The county also would provide Hopes with a vehicle.
Under Hopes, a former member of the Manatee School Board, several parts of the county government, like public safety and building and development services, have been reorganized. In March, the inspector general’s office said it had found favoritism and other misconduct in the code enforcement division, problems that were traced to the prior administration.
You can read the letter below.