Duane Henderson: Joe McClash’s quest to squash Aqua by the Bay

Aqua by the Bay
Duane Henderson

In Bradenton, Florida, the Aqua by the Bay neighborhood is up for approval, with the potential to transform the forgotten Western part of Manatee County.

The neighborhood — a Medallion Home project by Carlos Beruff — incorporates the concepts smart-growth Floridians like to see: environmental preservation, a mixed-use design and revitalization in the form of new jobs and tax dollars for an area that has continued to struggle since the recession.

But a read of the Joe McClash-owned Bradenton Times would have you falsely thinking this project is out to slash and burn what’s left of Sarasota Bay’s natural resources.

So why is former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash on this misinformation mission? Sour grapes, retaliation, frustration, compensation, embarrassment …? You tell me. He’s a spoilsport after losing his seat and looking to harm anyone who did not support him. Joe all but names Beruff as the reason for his loss on his campaign website, AKA “displaced aggression.”

Joe, it’s time to give it up, man up and stop your “crusade.” You lost, pal. Go write a book or something — but just “let it go.” Don’t you think this country has had enough sore losers that can’t accept election results?

Joe’s loss could have been about his consistently being out of touch with the business community and its impact on our local economy. He stopped representing us. My whole family voted for Joe McClash at one time, but those days are over. We didn’t change. He did, transitioning from a public servant to yet another self-serving politician.

Joe moved here from New York and made a lot of money from our community in very low-income housing rentals as a “slumlord,” excellent at getting code violations (accruing violations from Code Enforcement and calls for service from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office). I worked the zone where most of his rentals are located during my law enforcement days and can tell you his properties/tenants give the SWAT and Narcotics teams lots of practice. What is really interesting are the records from eviction filings that show handwritten letters to the court describing the bad living conditions and accusing Joe of not doing anything about them.

If Joe really cared about our environment, he would address the issues with his own properties and give the code enforcement folks and his tenants a break. What he is doing is substituting the “environmental cause” with a vendetta against Medallion Home, masking improvement as “overdevelopment.”

Joe has fed his readers a boatload of bunk and false news. Now it’s time he be called out for his motives and his history of poor judgment, bad ethics and bad policy. The truth is Joe has been wading through conflicts of interest at least as far back as 1999.

Somewhere around 1998 or 1999, he took a $10,500 taxpayer financed grant from Palmetto’s Community Redevelopment Agency. Joe apparently had no conflict in a taxpayer paid county official taking taxpayer money from a city agency within our County.

In the summer of 2002, Joe apparently couldn’t see the conflict of interest in using his position as a County Commissioner to revise a federal block grant to redirect taxpayer dollars into installing streetlights in “Duplex City” where he owned rental units. The value of his properties would be enhanced.

A 2006 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article reported that Joe was able to vote on spending taxpayer funds in a redevelopment zone that included more than 50 of his properties. He was able to vote on that spending because his holdings were just barely under the legal threshold.

In 2008, Joe started a prefabricated building company with visions of making millions on the backs of us county taxpayers, and he had the gall to claim it was not yet another conflict of interest.

In 2011, Joe wanted to sell advertising space in his internet newspaper to the county. Joe asked the County Attorney’s office if it would be OK. After citing a lot of legal and other precedents, the common-sense answer thankfully came back: “No.”

In front of us, we have an opportunity for a carefully and thoughtfully planned neighborhood with the potential to help West Bradenton thrive — the plan and the numbers make sense. Maybe Joe would be happier if Aqua by the Bay included some abandoned automobiles throughout as some sort of “public art” like those around his properties.

Readers should be wary of Joe’s motives to squash this improvement and look past the misinformation being spread, so a project with the potential to revitalize West Bradenton and benefit Manatee County doesn’t get sunk by his bad blood and personal agenda.


Duane Henderson is a Manatee County business owner, Realtor and former deputy sheriff of Manatee County.


Guest Author


  • Joy McIntyre

    August 11, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Thank goodness for Joe McClash and the others who are working hard to protect our shore line and the kitchen. Trash talking him is very unbecoming and childish of you. If CB really cared about West Bradenton as he claims he does he would build a suitable development on the property. He would work with the community. He knew when he bought it he couldn’t do what he wanted, but he bought it anyhow. It seems you as a realtor and CB a developer only care about making money for yourselves. Don’t try and tell us who live here it’s what we need. This is NOT what West Bradenton needs. I think I would rather have “public art”!

  • Lillian Pizzo

    August 11, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    How on earth is Aqua on the Bay going to “help West Bradenton thrive”? We are FINALLY starting to get past a housing slump that had all our houses dropped in value, we have an inadequate infrastructure to support more development, we have avenues and arteries that are clogged with traffic and God forbid we have a storm that requires evacuation, we will not be able to leave expediently as is! Stop with the propaganda. The only people who will “thrive” are the people who are looking to develop the land!

    • Shereed

      August 12, 2017 at 11:06 am

      I agree with Lillian, the new developments need to stop!

    • Diane Keller

      August 12, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      Lillian every thing you say is so true! It is time to slow the developers down, roads and infrastructure can not keep up now.

    • Debbie Clark

      August 13, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      I agree with every word you said.

  • Kathy Morrison

    August 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I have no vendetta against Medallion Homes, other than I wish those money changers would go away, and I stand taller when I stand with Joe McClash. So, on the one hand you decry him for not bettering the living conditions in Duplex City, and on the other hand you fault him for trying to put in street lights in a community well in need of city infrastructure. Got it – message received loud and clear. (p.s. You debunked your own argument.) 53rd Avenue W is now totally gutted/repaved/water works being paid by local taxpayers to support those who want to build in this vast environmentally important area, take their money out of the county, and leave the community with worse traffic conditions and emergency weather danger than ever before. The majority of residents of the westside where this atrocity is planned are against it. More prefer to use part of the land for a 3rd bridge to the island, and others prefer a preserve. NO ONE wants the high-rises, except for those who want to plunder the community for their own personal gain. …with strong hope in my heart that the county commission will finally come to its senses…Good luck, Bradenton!

  • Fred

    August 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Another one of Carlos’ mud slinging cronies. the problem with Aqua by the Bay (Water by the bay????) is that there is not enough infrastructure to support it. Who is going to pay for the increased water use, increase sewer system, road repair, side walks, increased law enforcement, emergency services? According to the FDOT, the AADT count at 75th st and Cortez is 26,000, Cortez and 51st st is 30,500, 14th st and Cortez is 52,000. Do you not see the traffic issues? Manatee county can not even serve the people of north east county with public transit. DO you just continue to build as many residences as possible without regard for the existing population?

  • Christina Angus

    August 12, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    One more person in bed with the developers and lifelong residents and their quality of life be damned! Enough already…go ruin some other community..there’s been enough done to us as it is!! : (

  • Glen Gibellina

    August 12, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Akward on the Bay has no business in Manatee
    145 feet towers on the last pristine waterfront
    What planet are you on better yet who’s in your wallet

  • Joe Edwards

    August 14, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Perhaps, Dewey, he may just have a legitimate concern for Manatee county’s few beautiful environmental properties! We all who live in Palm Aire now just how Bering “develops ” and his shallow concern for the enviroment; just witness his continuous violations at Lockwood Ridge and Whitfield Rd. I think that you have your priorities skewed!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn