On Tuesday, Manatee County Commissioners once again crammed an impressive amount of excrement into a single meeting. From an ill-advised takeover of a prestigious department to the final play in their farcical “search” for a new county administrator, to a politically-pointed culture war ordinance related to non-profits, and a little theater on “veterans housing,” it was a veritable clinic in bad government.
Last Sunday, I previewed a late add to the agenda in which “county staff” advised that the award-winning historical resources department that has been overseen by the clerk of the court & comptroller since the 1980s would be better served if it was placed under the county’s parks & leisure services department. As I noted, this was certainly nothing more than board chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge attempting to punish Clerk Angelina Colonneso for being one of the very few top officials in the county who fails to accept the idea that the commission chair—who is little more than a puppet conduit for the development cartel—should be allowed to function as the de facto dictator of the county.
The laughable presentation amounted to the suggestion that the award-winning department is nevertheless not fulfilling its potential. Why? Because it hasn’t benefited from the county’s brilliant management and marketing. Like I said last week, ask yourself how well that worked out when the county took the Coquina Beach Market away from a private-sector manager to “more efficiently” manage and market it in-house.
When Commissioner George Kruse asked who actually came up with the idea, he got a mumbled answer about it having been initiated by an administrator the board canned the better part of a year ago. When he asked why, if there had been enough urgency to add it to an agenda in the midnight hour, there had been zero conversations let alone a work session on the matter, he got no answer at all. So, your representatives voted 6-1 to give the chair his hollow victory, at the expense of what is best for the county.
The board also finally dropped the curtain on the theater it has been engaged in regarding the county administrator. They spent all kinds of taxpayer money putting on a dog and pony show just so that they could do what we all knew they were going to do anyway—hire whichever internal stooge proved most adept at being a figurehead, while Kevin runs the county at the behest of his developer sugar daddy. Charlie will do as he’s told and he’ll get another fat pay raise, some of which should at least trickle down to the waitstaff at his favorite local watering holes.
We were also treated to a double dose of spectacular stupidity from everyone’s favorite BOCC geniuses, James Satcher and Jason Bearden. Satcher, who continues to demonstrate that he has no understanding of the female body (surprise) or its gender-specific healthcare requirements, threw some more red meat toward whatever portion of his constituency is as concerned with waging war on Planned Parenthood as he is.
Satcher, who loves to talk about the misleading nature of the “liberal mainstream media,” continues to peddle the outright falsehood that the organization’s main service is to provide abortions. The pro-life movement often claims that as much as 94% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions, while the organization claims the procedure represents only 3% of the total services it provides annually. In truth, while the 3% number is arguably misleading since not all services are equal and many patients receive multiple small services in one visit, even comparing the number of total patients to the number of patients receiving abortions only gets you to less than 15%.
In reality, many women use Planned Parenthood for a wide array of female health services, including things like cancer screening and prevention, STD/STI testing and treatment, and birth control. Of the patients they treat, 79 percent are at or below 150% of the federal poverty line and have few, if any, alternatives for receiving such care.
It’s also worth noting that by providing birth control, the organization prevents far more unwanted pregnancies than it terminates for those who elect an abortion procedure. In other words, no matter what ham-fisted ideas are hatched by mental midgets like James Satcher, Planned Parenthood prevents far more abortions than he does.
Not that any of it matters to a hack like Satcher. He now has a talking point that will resonate with other evangelical zealots, and he’s counting on that being enough to keep himself and his ever-growing family on the public dole, so long as he doesn’t do anything that might inspire the development cartel to throw him in a corner with a dunce cap atop his head.
For those of you who just couldn’t bear additional insults to your intelligence and bowed out before the gavel fell, you were lucky to miss the brain cell coup de grâce that was Commissioner Jason Bearden’s presentation on a possible site for “veteran housing.” Bearden and his fellow marine vet Mike Rahn have been taking a lot of heat for the cowardice they displayed in skipping the vote against the Tunnel to Towers Foundation project that enjoyed enthusiastic support from the entire board until suddenly (and without any public discussion) it didn’t.
Bearden has an obvious penchant for going on ad nauseam about his time as a soldier, so it is no surprise that he did not enjoy being publicly blasted for cowering to the forces that be once the rubber met the road. The presentation, however, was … well, hard to watch (see video below). In what amounted to a bunch of adults patronizing a less-than-erudite child showing off his finger painting project from art class, we heard something about a densely forested plot of county-owned land that’s currently home to gopher turtles, possibly hosting some tiny homes for vets at some point in the future, maybe. A real problem solver, this one is.
Four of these seats are up for grabs in 2024, folks. The development cartel will surely invest heavily in influencing those who aren't paying attention so that they can keep their rubber stamp soaked with ink. Spread the word, wake up your neighbors. If a majority of these clown puppets are not voted out of office, the damage they will ultimately inflict on this community will be irreparable.
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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