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Just When You Think It Can't Possibly Get Worse


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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  • WTF

    The weaponization of our local government

    This article is spot on

    When the BOCC takes a page out of national government on weaponizing it’s own political party to go after one of it's own commissioner it is a sad day in manatee county.

    When the local board of county commissioners goes after other government agencies is a clear indication that outside influence other than the voters have hijacked our commissioners.

    They work as a destructive elected hive. In the voters’ eyes these commissioners will be in a very exclusive club….. One & Done.

    The voters will not condone such bad behavior and outright lies time and time again

    The newly elected county commissioners should be looking to George Kruse as a mentor and not as an adversary, this short slightness on their part, we the voters will take note. Shame on them

    The rest of the BOCC could only wish to have the honesty and integrity of George Kruse. Unfortunately, they fall miserably short of any resemblance of what official duties and responsibilities are while in office and to the people that elected them.

    We will not forget when we are in the voting booth and all the fancy 4 color postcards we get bombarded a week before election won't save your sorry gluteus maximus.

    Sunday, September 17, 2023 Report this

  • Dianna

    This board is a wrecking ball that will leave citizens picking up the tab on the stupidity for years. The utter stupidity of Van Ostenbridge and Bearden- and Satcher-Ballard -Rahn- Turner who support it. This meeting should be required viewing for voters. It will totally make you sick. The podcast is great- it makes us feel a little bit lighter about something we clearly can’t change until we vote them out. The port meeting (Bearden and Van Ostenbridge) was a total embarrassment to our community as they try to take over a USCG oil spill investigation- citizens and historians commenting on why historical resources dept should stay with “record keepers” and not sports and leisure were completely ignored yet most of the citizens had years of experience with this department where the board has none. The most sickening thing is that this board is blowing up - Tunnels to Towers Veterans housing project with wrap around services and is totally funded by the foundation to be replaced by something that Bearden who has zero experience has cooked up which will be funded by the taxpayers of Manatee County. They are actually suggesting that the county run this project- hello- we do not have the expertise to do this. It would be funny if it wasn’t true. This meeting will make you cry but the public needs to see it.

    Sunday, September 17, 2023 Report this

  • rjckeuka4

    Folks, Reference keeps being made to "changing the guard," but in order to do so, there's got to be a plan. We just can't rely on the voters of Manatee County to come through. Most don't read the BT. Most don't take time from their busy days to watch a BCC meeting or know what is going on with the Commission. It's easy to just vote "party" and let it so at that. And clearly, most in the County won't vote for a Democrat. Unfortunate, but true. That means identifying RESPONSIBLE Republicans or Independents to run, and convincing Democrats to vote for them. A hard, hard task,...but doable with a plan. I'm not well enough wired in the community to know how to make that happen, but someone is. Hopefully that person, or persons will step forward. Perhaps former Commissioners,...or others. I'd be happy to go door to door if and when something gets initiated. Living with the current crop is simply unacceptable! Richard Correnti

    Sunday, September 17, 2023 Report this

  • sandy

    rjckeuka4: I am a Democrat who does not always vote a party line. I have voted Republican if I felt they were the better candidate. Unfortunately, as only Republicans seem to run, the seat is usually decided at the primary, not at the general election. And they are very good at utilizing the write-in loophole which closes the primary to registered Republicans only. Write-ins do not win general elections. In 2022 write-ins didn't even campaign. As I don't vote a party line, I have considered changing my party affiliation just so I can vote even though I have been a Democrat for almost 50 years. Need to get rid of the loophole so the other half of the registered voters in the county can vote in an open primary.

    Sunday, September 17, 2023 Report this

  • Fishhead

    Team of losers. Hand picked DuhSantis cronies. Bagoof cronies. The only one with half a brain is stepping up now just to be elected again. Vote these smucks out people. They are robbing us blind. VOTE

    Monday, September 18, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    Thank you again Mitch. I just love the classy way you 'give em hell'. Keep having our backs please. You are like a beacon in the dark, a soldier for truth. Thank you for your service. Without reporters like you we couldn't hold our gov accountable.

    Come on everybody, share share share Mitch's news reports with everyone you know. We can help Mitch spread the truth if we really try hard. And help up TBT readership.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2023 Report this

  • Removetheplantburglar






    Thursday, October 26, 2023 Report this