Tales from the Mark Side: The Conservative Voice in Manatee County

Defunding common sense continues, but not in Manatee County

By Mark Young


As we look around at the chaos across America, specifically in liberal-run cities, we can take a moment to give thanks to our local leadership, particularly within our strong law enforcement agencies, that it’s not happening here in Manatee County.

I’ve not always agreed with the decisions that have been made from various political boards in Manatee County. I’ve sat through 90 minutes of an eight-hour commission meeting listening to some of the silliest debates I’ve ever heard.

By the end of it, my brain would be blanketed in a fog as I dragged myself back to the office to try and write a 20-inch story out of hours of nonsense. I’d tell my coworkers, “I know I’m going to heaven because I just served my time in hell.”

Seriously, don’t ever become a government beat reporter. Those are thousands of hours of your life you’ll never get back.

But at least most of our Manatee County leadership shows common sense in staying away from the far left politics that are destroying other communities. For that, I give my thanks for looking out for Manatee County residents by ensuring our law enforcement agencies have every tool they need in their public safety missions.

When this whole defund the police movement started, my eyes lit up with excitement because I thought for sure that such nonsense would end the power gains of the far left lunatics like squad members AOC, Rashida Talib, Ilhan Omar and Cori Bush.

They all got reelected instead and it boggles the mind when you think the majority of the people in their districts actually think like they do.

Much to my surprise, people started taking them seriously elsewhere and strengthened this absurd movement that has led to a massive spike in crime in liberal cities.

AOC has since denied that the mass organized looting sprees even exist despite all the videos. Talib has introduced legislation to empty federal prisons within 10 years regardless of the crime, Bush has doubled down on the defund the police movement and Omar, well she just continues her terrorist goals of destroying Israel.

How these four have not been made into a cartoon yet, I do not know.

It amazes me how anyone is actually surprised by the results of no-bail policies, not pursuing misdemeanor crimes, and lowering felony crimes to misdemeanors all the while cutting law enforcement budgets to the bare bones.

What did they honestly think would happen? That everyone would circle up at city parks with flowers in their hair and sing Kumbaya? 

The notion under these leftist policies that a social worker would take over domestic violence calls also is absurd. It is one of the most dangerous encounters for law enforcement officers and would have ended very badly for those social workers. 

So yes, we need to credit our Manatee County leadership, but mostly we need to thank our local law enforcement. They are incredible.

Sheriff Rick Wells sets a high standard within the sheriff’s office, has zero tolerance for any crime, provides strong leadership and does an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes work for the community.

I hear some people say they wish Wells was as vocal and animated as Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, but Wells lets his policies speak for him. However, when Wells does speak, it’s time to open your ears because he has something important to say you’ll definitely want to hear.

A big thank you to Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan, as well. BPD kind of quietly flies under the radar at times, but that’s a reflection of Bevan’s leadership as well.

Also without tolerance for crime, Bevan has turned around a department that was in a bit of turmoil before her arrival.

She is “a walk softly but carry a big law enforcement stick” kind of leader, which serves the city residents well. She, too, sets an incredibly high standard for her officers and that is a good thing for the city of Bradenton.

Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves either at times. A straight shooter and as honest as they come, Tyler leads PPD by that example.

It’s a department that struggles with funding through no fault of the city’s while those officers face some of the most high-crime areas in the county. They, too, do it quietly and with an extraordinary amount of professionalism.

Anna Maria Island is also blessed to have Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer and Bradenton Beach Police Chief John Crosby who took over the helm from long-time Chief Sam Speciale, who guided BBPD through a lot of tough times.

Crosby and Tokajer, as well as Speciale, are all professional in their no-nonsense approach to local law enforcement. The officers in both departments are a reflection of that leadership in serving the two island cities.

I’ve known all these incredible law enforcement leaders, and some of their officers, deputies, detectives and more, for a long time now. I know how much they care about their departments and I know how much they love our communities.

They live the “protect and serve” motto and are thankfully supported by not only our citizens, but by our local government leaders who do understand that their first priority as elected officials is public safety.

COVID may have shown a split in how public safety should be truly served, but there is no division when it comes to keeping crime in Manatee County in check as best as possible.

So as we watch the chaos unfold elsewhere, let us take a collective sigh of relief that we live in Manatee County and have these fine agencies and law enforcement officers serving on overwatch.

If no one has given our law enforcement agencies a big thank you lately, let this serve as a reminder that we are all guilty of taking things for granted within the daily struggles of life, but we are grateful for each and every one of you.



By Mark Young

Mark Young is a U.S. Army veteran and a seasoned journalist of 25 years. His writing and reporting has garnered dozens of state press association and press club awards in Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming for investigative reporting, opinion writing, in-depth reporting and more.