An open letter to Manatee County Commissioners and county administrator:
Manatee County Board of County Commissioners approved an “invitation to propose” a conversion of the old jail house in downtown Bradenton to affordable housing in 2016. Only one developer responded. In November 2016, the Manatee County sheriff wrote a letter to Manatee County’s administrator detailing issues related to the proposal. It was signed by the sheriff, clerk of the circuit court and chief judge and endorsed by all but one judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit.
Aside from the letter’s content, it’s signatories and endorsements raise concerns about open government and an impartial judiciary.
A letter from and to the executive branch endorsed by the judicial branch impacts a decision of the legislative branch. The private citizen invited withdraws his proposal without a public hearing. Future proposals are doomed. Government officials express no concern about potential abuses of power and loss of an impartial judiciary. It was framing only as an affordable housing issue at the commissioners’ Land Use meeting on Jan. 5, 2017. If all of this continues to hold true, then the end of democracy has commenced.
For these reasons, I ask you to please have the county attorney provide an opinion of all aspects of this correspondence and its impact. Admittedly at great political risks. This letter reeks of closed-room collaboration among branches of government, abuse of power and loss of an impartial judiciary. Commissioners should ask the state attorney’s office to become involved if administrative, statute or constitutional issues are identified, as it is empowered to do.
A most concerned citizen,