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Want to comment on that shark video? You can’t at Manatee commission meetings

Manatee commission won't take citizen comments about the shark video

Manatee County Attorney Mickey Palmer advised the county commission on Thursday to not take citizen comments about the shark video.
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Manatee County Attorney Mickey Palmer advised the county commission on Thursday to not take citizen comments about the shark video.

The Manatee County Commission will not take any citizens’ comments on the shark video under investigation at any meeting, the Manatee County attorney announced Thursday.

At the start of the commission’s land use meeting Thursday, Mickey Palmer read a prepared statement regarding the video, which shows a shark being dragged behind a boat at a high rate of speed. The viral video is being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“These matters, including the ongoing investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, do not involve the business of county government,” Palmer said. “The Board of County Commissioners of Manatee County has no jurisdiction over or influence regarding the matters that are a subject of these reports.”

Local news and online commenters have identified the four as West Coast anglers they’ve repeatedly complained about, including Michael Wenzel and Robert Lee “Bo” Benac.

Wenzel’s father is Robert Wenzel, the Manatee County planning section manager; Benac’s mother is Betsy Benac, chairwoman of the Manatee County Commission. Neither parent has responded to requests for comment.

“The matters are being duly investigated by appropriate state authorities,” Palmer said Thursday. “It is the recommendation of the Office of the County Attorney that the Board of County Commissioners refrain from entertaining any citizen commentary at this or any future board meeting on these matters.”

It did not appear that anyone else had come to Thursday’s meeting to comment on issues related to the shark video.

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson

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