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More BOCC Theater on Israel Proclamation


At Tuesday’s meeting, Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge presented a proclamation expressing the county’s unwavering support for the nation of Israel and its actions in the Gaza Strip. It was the latest effort by this embarrassment of a board to distract from the real issues they deserve to be held accountable for in this year’s elections by linking local races to hot-button national issues.

Van Ostenbridge previously wasted taxpayer money on a dog-and-pony show intended to examine how the migrant crisis is affecting Manatee County. In short, the relevant agencies explained to the dim-witted first-term commissioner that it wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the bougainvillea thief from sending out campaign materials suggesting to the many voters who were lucky enough not to have seen the ridiculous meeting that he is doing real work even if it is on a made-up problem.

Since polls show that the border crisis and the wars in Gaza and Ukraine are among the most contentious political issues heading into this election season, it is no surprise that a commissioner with such an unequivocally terrible record in terms of his performance as a local elected official would want to obfuscate on a grand scale.

Whether a mountain of campaign cash from his developer sugar daddy and some political misdirection will be enough to overcome the fact that he was on criminal probation for a good chunk of his first term while pissing off an entire island over parking garages and related threats of annexation as well as orchestrating the evisceration of county wetland protection policies remains to be seen.

Sources from within county government claim that employees were actively encouraged to attend that portion of the meeting in support of Van Ostenbridge’s proclamation. This is ironic, given that county government staff themselves are not permitted to express political positions. In fact, the county’s own guidelines on requests for proclamations explicitly state that “proclamations cannot be issued for matters of political controversy, ideological or religious beliefs, or individual convictions.”

Commissioner Jason Bearden, who is no longer the subject of who’s the dumbest member of the board debates now that James Satcher has been appointed Supervisor of Elections, got in on the action via a marginally coherent rant in which he quoted scripture to suggest that anyone who stands against Israel—no matter what atrocities its government commits, apparently—is doomed to be "cursed."

The brutal war in the Gaza Strip is nothing if not a political controversy broadly split along ideological lines and based on religious beliefs, making for a trifecta of no-nos. It is a deeply divisive issue for which Americans remain divided, with a slight majority disapproving of Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Why on Earth a small county in Florida has to weigh in with an official opinion rendered by six small-time elected officials on behalf of nearly 450,000 citizens remains unclear. Oh yeah, it’s so they can campaign on red meat culture war issues, hoping that voters won’t take the time to peek behind the curtain and look at this board’s despicable record on matters that actually do impact the quality of life of everyday citizens such as environmental degradation, overdevelopment, traffic, the evisceration of home rule, etc.

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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  • Hamwoman

    Love this. Keep up the good work.

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • writerlynn9717

    Do you think someone will whistleblow on his coercion of county employees to support his politics? The pressure on many of them must be so confusing and frustrating. And, how much of our taxpayers monies will he use to help Israel?

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • jimandlope

    Wait a minute is it possible that we could ship KVO and BeardinGod to Israel to assist in the combat? We certainly don’t need them on Manatee County? Jim Tierney

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • nellmcphillips

    While I usually agree with what you have to say, this article could have been written with the first and last paragraph. What was in between these two paragraphs were off base showing your own bias. To say that “Americans remain divided, with a slight majority disapproving of Israel’s actions in Gaza.” is misleading and not based fact but your opinion. According, to Pew Research it is actually the opposite. “Months into the Israel-Hamas war, roughly six-in-ten Americans (58%) say Israel’s reasons for fighting Hamas are valid.”

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • sandy

    While I have empathy for Israel and Palestinians (not Hamas), I feel that the BOCC should concentrate on what is relevant to the citizens of Manatee County. That is the job they were elected to do.

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • Cat L

    How to maximize advertising dollars... piggyback on the national marketing plan. There is no nuance in this bunch, so of course they'll expound on only the collective opinion.


    it's still an opinion column.

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • Debann


    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • WTF

    Say no to KVO.... One and Done

    This a guy who has NEVER had a moral compass

    Thursday, May 16 Report this