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Banana Republicans


This week, our useful idiots on the Manatee County Commission backed up the  dump truck and deposited another impressively large pile of manure onto the proverbial lawns of the citizens they are meant to “represent.”

On Tuesday, newly installed Supervisor of Elections James Satcher came hat in hand to the BOCC, asking for the mountain of money the former commissioner had alluded to when addressing the board just after local political puppet Bill Galvano convinced Gov. Ron DeSantis to anoint the strip club evangelist as our Supervisor of Elections, despite having zero qualifications for the office.

Once President of the Florida Senate, Galvano is now making a name for himself as a special interest bag man. It would seem that he is shoving a finger in every rancid pie on the table, from ill-advised patronage appointments to the New College debacle. Despite terming out in both chambers of the legislature and reaching the high chamber's pinnacle, the Bradenton attorney had not managed to build much of a legacy aside from carrying water for the RPOF’s special interest agenda. These days, he’s certainly building one as an instrument, if not an architect, of his home county’s destruction—and making big bucks doing so.

For his part, Satcher did what he did best: bloviated a bunch of indiscernible word salad that amounted to little more than the hot air that has become his brand. He alluded to all kinds of scandalous behavior from former SOE Mike Bennett’s administration, then indicated that he was above telling the board and public exactly what he was alluding to. What bravery, James (insert sarcastic slow clap).

As usual, Commissioner George Kruse was the only board member interested in going off the approved script. Kruse asked many of the questions the public had as to why a newly-appointed constitutional officer would be coming to the board and asking for a massive increase to his current budget while other constitutional officers were working on next year's budget requests, which are soon to be presented.

Kruse pointed out that despite the bulk of Satcher’s diatribe focusing on having the right software to ensure election integrity, almost none of the massive request being put forth was related to such matters. For some reason, the supporting documents had been removed from the agenda packet prior to the meeting, and their off-the-cuff conversation revealed how little Satcher understood what was being asked for, with Kruse able to recall more accurate figures from memory than the SOE.

Satcher’s newly hired and similarly unqualified chief of staff, David Ballard (husband of Commissioner Amanda Ballard), was supposed to explain that in greater detail, only Ballard never appeared at the dais.

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge, who had met with Satcher at the SOE’s office right after he was installed, began coaching Satcher from the dais, asking if he remembered correctly whether Satcher had inherited an office hundreds of thousands of dollars "in the red" (he had not, though Satcher either lacked the stones to tell his handler that or does not understand math very well, possibly both) and reminding him about their shared interest in vastly decreasing “unsupervised voting,” the new buzz word for vote by mail.

In the end, Manatee County taxpayers were told—by self-described “fiscal conservatives,” no less—that Republican Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett, having had run the office to stellar results at a fraction of the cost of other similar counties, was a bad thing and that the only way we could be sure that illegals weren’t going to help the Soros boys steal our elections and turn our county socialist was to give this goldbricker a big pile of their money. Tired of watching as holes were shot in the presentation, Van Ostenbridge called the question to save his big buddy further embarrassment, and the board, sans Kruse, voted to give Satcher the dough.

As it is often said in politics, it is not who votes but who counts the votes. It would seem that your bought and paid-for government is taking major steps to ensure that if the millions of dollars in dark money and special interest cash fail to buy the election via low-information voters, political forces will ensure enough bad votes are audited and disqualified to guarantee the desired result. Find me the votes, James. 

The idiocy of our Banana Republicans was on full display again in Thursday’s planning commission meeting, when planning commissioners asked all of the questions residents expected county commissioners to ask when Van Ostenbridge put forth his plan to make his developer buddies pay their fair share on impact fees. As I wrote in this column, in actuality, it was nothing short of a big wet kiss to his developer sugar daddies, but the portion of the planning commission you can watch below gives an idea of what the BOCC meeting would have looked like, were the board not, in James Satcher’s words, “kind of on a string up here.”

Dennis "Mitch" Maley is an editor and columnist for The Bradenton Times and the host of our weekly podcast. With over two decades of experience as a journalist, he has covered Manatee County government since 2010. He is a graduate of Shippensburg University and later served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Click here for his bio. His 2016 short story collection, Casting Shadows, was recently reissued and is available here.


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  • WTF

    Who let so many clowns in the Manatee government.

    No more pay to play it's pay and instruct the puppets what to say and do.

    They must order KY jelly by the case

    Sunday, June 2 Report this