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Manatee County Dedicates Park to Governor Ron DeSantis


BRADENTON — On Wednesday, Manatee County dedicated a new dog park and playground in honor of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The naming of the park was controversial as many residents had preferred that it be dedicated to Snooty the Manatee or in honor of a local Marine who had been one of the first casualties in the Iraq War rather than be used for political leverage with the governor.

Considerations for a  name for the park began in 2022. Because it was to be located in then-commissioner Misty Servia's district, the former commissioner spearheaded the process and the county began a survey asking residents to suggest potential names.

Although Servia is a Republican, she had become increasingly isolated by the new majority on the board—commissioners George Kruse, Kevin Van Ostenbridge, Vanessa Baugh, and James Satcher—all of whom were supporting her opponent in the upcoming Republican primary, Mike Rahn.

Commissioner Baugh unexpectedly took an interest in the park, declaring that the process was taking too long and that she understood that DeSantis had received the most votes thus far. This was true, but only after Rahn undertook a campaign to encourage Republicans and REC members to vote for DeSantis.

An email campaign from Rahn included the following:
"Dear Fellow Patriot, My liberal opponent is having a contest, and I want conservatives like us to take it over… I think you need to let my opponent know we should name our next Manatee County Park after America’s Governor, Ron DeSantis…this will drive my liberal opponent crazy because she suggested that our Governor was racist when he tried to get the vaccine to Manatee County Seniors living in our community.”

At the time, Baugh was facing an ethics investigation for her role in manipulating a local COVID-19 vaccine lottery to benefit friends, supporters, and members of her district for which she would go before the governor and his cabinet if she was found to have committed violations. Ultimately, she was, and later resigned once she too found herself ostracized by the development cartel.

Servia had been critical of Baugh's role in Vaccinegate, which brought international shame to the county, and Baugh and her allies had already attempted to spin her criticism as if it had been directed at the governor, hoping to hurt her in the upcoming race, which she would end up losing to Rahn. Ultimately, she voted with commissioners to name the park after the governor, but lamented the fact that it had been done via political machinations.

The park was dedicated in a private ceremony that was not open to members of the public unless they had an invitation from members of the Manatee County Commission.

“What a great park," said Governor DeSantis during the ceremony. “As a dad, I am glad that this is here so that so many families will be able to enjoy it in the future."

"Governor Ron DeSantis always prioritizes the well-being of Florida families," said Rahn. "May this park pay tribute to his commitment as a dedicated family man and offer a wonderful backdrop for Manatee County families to create lasting memories together."

A Manatee County Government Facebook post on the event contained overwhelmingly negative comments as of  Thursday evening.


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  • Charles

    A "dog park" — is that where one unleashes dogs and lets them run undisciplined?

    Sounds appropriate. Wonder how long it takes to be renamed.

    Friday, October 20, 2023 Report this

  • writerlynn9717

    Who let the dogs out? Rahn sounds paranoid and inappropriate for Manatee County. A park name should be inviting not named after a partisan politician.

    Friday, October 20, 2023 Report this

  • jimandlope

    Things are changing. I can remember when a “public park dedication”was open to the public. This entire issue was rather secretive to say the least. Maybe I misunderstood and it’s a Republican park not open to Democrats and undeclared voters!? To think that any park could be named after DeSantis is troubling. I do remember him scolding a group of 12 yr olds for wearing masks (during Covid). He recently had a sixteen year old removed from a political event because the “kid” asked intrusive questions. His association with children leaves much to be desired especially when he teaches them “ false American History “. Do the dogs have to be Republican?

    Friday, October 20, 2023 Report this

  • Debann


    Friday, October 20, 2023 Report this

  • Charles

    images indicate no bulletproofing (that makes him look fat) so perhaps fear of his own open carry nuts (or angry trumpsters) showing up drove the private "ceremony" for squinty so photographs look better — his concerns for his own safety are well documented — I really wish he would shave that Nixonian 5 o'clock mustache he always has under that wrinkled-up nose...

    Friday, October 20, 2023 Report this

  • Dianna

    Another sad day in Manatee County where commissioners and their political consultant- paid for by developers, steal the naming of what rightfully belonged to the public. You did not follow the rules- AGAIN. We will not forget the actions of the instigator Rahn and the commissioners who voted for disregarding the rules concerning the naming. An opening the public was not invited to for fear of the backlash.

    Saturday, October 21, 2023 Report this

  • WTF

    Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis

    400 South Monroe Street

    Tallahassee, FL 32399

    October 20, 2023

    Re: Ron DeSantis Park, Sarasota FL.

    Dear Governor,

    As a stanch supporter of you I find it disturbing that the very park we name after you the community it is intended for could not attend this festive event. This was by “invitation only” what exactly does that mean? I for one who lives only a few blocks away was not allowed into this event but could attend your wife’s event later that evening.

    You travel across the country and speak to 1000’s of supporters who are not vetted when attending these events. Help me understand why this event was any different. As a taxpayer and voter in Manatee County for decades, you missed an opportunity to connect with the real voters of Manatee County instead of self-serving politicians with self-serving “invites” who will never visit that park again.

    I my opinion you lost a great opportunity to meet the folks who actually voted for you. Please in the future out of respect to the voters who put you in office please discontinue this practice and let your supporters, support you.

    Thank you for the opportunity to address my grievances protected by the Constitution in this “invite only” subject matter.

    For the Record

    Glen Gibellina Glengibellina@gmail.com


    I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of Ron DeSantis Park letter has been provided by US Postal CERTIFIED MAIL 7020 2450 0000 9888 3149 to Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis 400 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399 this 21st Day of October, 2023

    Wednesday, October 25, 2023 Report this

  • Removetheplantburglar






    Friday, October 27, 2023 Report this