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Letter to the Editor

Beyond Embarrassing


In Manatee County Government, there is no culture of accountability to build trust with the citizens.

The elected Republicans plot to hide their texts, lobby for their friends to be hired, fire whistleblowers, violate sunshine rules, direct subordinates to dodge filling public records requests, refuse breathalyzer tests at the scene of an accident, and steal other people’s property in the dark of night.

These aren’t "evil democrats" doing this.....these are people who call themselves Republicans. Their behavior damages the reputation and brand of the Republican Party with every one of these despicable acts.

Kevin Van Ostenbridge ran for commissioner with his platform being “water quality, transportation and infrastructure.” But once in office, Van Ostenbridge voted to move the boundary lines that protect our water in order to allow his donors, the developers, Pat Neal and Carlos Beruff, more room to build more homes. These are the same two developers who have funded his entire 2024 re-election using shell companies and groups they both head.

Van Ostenbridge is the picture of hypocrisy. He stated: “…….and we have all seen how the decorum of these meetings can deteriorate……” and then proceeded to mock CHILDREN who participated in government and spoke at the BOCC meeting about the wetlands vote. Van Ostenbridge has even referred to women as “C__ts” in his texts.

We, as Party members, are expected to turn a blind eye and continue to support these "representatives." And if we don’t turn a blind eye, we become the target of the political vitriol they spew from the Dias. We are attacked by their campaign manager and the volunteers and leadership at the Manatee County GOP, all of whom are willing to say and do anything to discredit dissenting voices.

These are the tactics rivaling a criminal syndicate.

  • You want clean water for your kids? The Republican commissioners will say you're a communist.
  • You want safe roads? The Republican commissioners will call you a Leftist.
  • You want government accountability? The Republican commissioners will unleash their campaign manager to look up your voting record and say you're not a "real" Republican.

Deflection is the tactic of the day to skirt the mammoth wrongdoing happening at the county government. And it appears the deflection messaging comes from a single source - that’s why the “Fab(ricated) Four” sound exactly alike.

Ultimately, who is really in control of Manatee County?

You can say it's the developers, but it's not. It's the County Commissioners who you elected who now ignore everything they promised and everything you want in order to keep the developers happy. Because they believe money from the developers keeps them in office--not your votes.

They exploit you--and all of the voters in Manatee County--for their own profit. They use a political consultant to carefully craft diversion messages to fool you--and then they send these faux messages to you in emails, surveys, and texts.

Commissioners tell us the developers aren't the bad guys. They say these are people who are invested in our community. But they don't invest in our community. They invest in compromised candidates who are “morally flexible.”

Most of the news articles published about the commissioners this year have included the name of the developers' darling: "Anthony Pedicini." Pedicini is the required campaign consultant for developer-backed commissioners. Through public record requests, it’s clear Pedicini is now a Public Figure, one who directs the commissioners how to vote--including how to redistrict county lines and who to choose for citizen advisory boards. Despite acting as a lobbyist, Pedicini is not registered as a lobbyist in Manatee County, but he sure wields a powerful sword for someone who doesn’t even live in this county.

You, dear Manatee County Republican, are being used--and exploited. You see the problem, but you remain silent out of a sense of displaced loyalty to people instead of the principles of the Republican Party. It’s high time to start asking questions despite the abuse hurled at you by the commissioners and their handler. What you allow will continue.

Priscilla Grey
Manatee County


9 comments on this item

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  • Charlene

    Wonderfully stated, Priscilla. Thank you for your letter! People need to not be bound by ideology and realize that corruption comes in all stripes, it's not partisan. Some things are not a matter of left and right but right and wrong, and we cannot continue to allow unelected sociopaths to control the county by proxy.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2023 Report this

  • Carolannfelts

    Wonderfully put, Ms. Grey. In local elections, our first line of representation in government, the ones who make the decisions that effect our day to day quality of life in how our communities are formed and how we are governed, is where we must have the accountability, civility and ethics that is in individual character.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2023 Report this

  • bbenac

    Thank you Ms. Gray for stating the facts -that the “Republicans” currently running Manatee County have no ethics, no morals and certainly no leadership skills, with the exception of George Kruse who has recently found the light in making decisions in the best interest of the citizens. It’ s time the Good People of Manatee County start working together to expose these frauds, who are using their positions to silence the public and promote only the agenda of their handler's in order to keep their recently found positions of authority (and salaries)! Most Republicans are not fooled by their rhetoric, and are disgusted by the REC leadership, who are complicit in silencing those who want to have a voice other than the lunatic fringe now in control. So let’s ban together-and do something to take back our County. Use your voices, your social media to state the facts. These are not Conservatives. They have spent every dollar and created so much debt that tax increases are inevitable. They have abandoned any planning for the future-no thought to how growth outside the urban service boundary will be provided with water, wastewater or any other urban services. They have failed to follow the mandate of over 70% of the voters to purchase environmentally sensitive land-because of petty politics, insuring that the land will be developed (again outside the Urban Services Area). They haven’t kept up with the costs of growth, a fake impact fee “increase” to insure that developer profits remain high (100% fees at 2014 costs is not even 50% of what the impact fees should be assessed). Thanks for the expose…if they all don’t end up in jail, vote them out!

    Tuesday, November 28, 2023 Report this

  • katherng23

    Ms. Grey,

    It is THE MONEY that gets and keeps them in office. Unless the general public starts to take an interest in local governance it will remain money not actions that decide our elections.

    Kathern G



    Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Report this

  • rayfusco68

    Excellent letter, Priscilla. The problem is that things will not change, the current system is rigged to allow only the bought and sold candidates to run for election. Until voters decide to vote issues instead of party lines, and viable candidates find independent financial backing to run things will not change. I am registered as no party affiliation, because it isn't a party that counts it is the issues that we should be concerned about. We have a representative republic not a democracy, we need to have people in office that represent what the public wants, not the special interests. The one party system currently in place in Manatee County assures the special interests of remaining in power, until there is an alternative candidate choice things will not change.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Report this

  • Tony2Chins

    Well said Priscilla! Along the lines of rayfusco68's comments, I have changed my party affiliation to R so I can participate in the Manatee County primaries and play a small part to change the current situation. I strongly urge every citizen of Manatee County who is not registered as a Republican to do so and boot these criminals out!

    Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Report this

  • dreed135

    Priscilla, thank you for your succinct and bold description of what is nothing less than an onslaught of destruction of our once very livable county perpetrated by our elected officials. Not many among us have had the fortitude to state the obvious as well as you have here!

    Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Report this

  • WTF

    WOW I couldn't of said it any better, you could be my long lost activist soulmate .... For the Record ...LOL

    Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Report this

  • nellmcphillips

    Well said Ms Grey! And Tony2chins the idea of registering Republican is great but as I have suggested this to many Democrats, they can’t handle the thought. The only way to beat KVO is for independents and democrats to register Republican for the primary only and then switch back. If KVO can be beat in the primary then folks can vote their own party should they wish to and change parties at their convenience. This election is not about Party but about ethics and morals as Ms Grey editorial explains so well. But give the campaigning time and Pedicini and his lackeys will be bringing out the big sticks and lies to discredit any candidate that opposes them. It’s a sad day. But we the people will vote. Now is not a time of indifference.

    Saturday, December 2, 2023 Report this