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

Manatee County deserves honest answers in commissioner DUI probe

 

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

 

What is it about the human condition that makes so many people refuse to admit when they are wrong?

For me, it’s not a problem because I’m never wrong.

Seriously though, I’m the first person to admit when I’ve made a mistake and there is nothing anyone can do or say to me that will punish me more than I punish myself.

Why? Because I know I’m better than that mistake. I know I’m a better man thanwhatever stupid thing I’ve done. It compels me to admit that I was wrong, that I made a mistake.

I don’t argue to try to hide the fact that I messed up, and I certainly don’t go silent in hopes that it will just go away.

There’s just too much of that nonsense in this world.

Government officials seem to always make that same mistake and I’m here to tell you that silence is not the answer when it comes to public trust.

It doesn’t work in your personal relationships so what makes politicians think it will work with the public who has supported them?

Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse has had the opportunity to be forthcoming in his recent DUI probe. I get it, though. It was an investigation and now the state attorney will decide if the DUI charge will go forward after Kruse recently crashed his pickup truck into a tree.

With legal action potentially pending, any attorney worth their salt would tell their client to close their mouth. But any public servant worth their salt would put aside that selfish endeavor to cover their behinds and be honest with their constituents.

That’s what Kruse should be doing as an elected official, but instead, he leaves the public to make assumptions based on the sheriff’s deputy body cam footage that was released on Friday.

Lord knows when you leave social media to be the judge, you are in a serious world of hurt.

We all know what happens when someone assumes, and that’s what is happening now: it’s making an ass out of everyone involved.

I don’t like this wishy-washy crap that is so typical in politics, and I especially don’t like it coming from a Republican.

So what happened commissioner? Were you impaired? Did you have one drink? Two? None? Does the commissioner believe alcohol was a factor? Did he think he was fine after a couple of drinks or did he go for broke at the bar like a college frat boy?

Only Commissioner Kruse knows the truth at this point, regardless of how the court process plays out because of the way it was handled.

Whether a judge finds you guilty or not guilty, or whether the state attorney even files charges really isn’t relevant anymore. But Kruse can still tell us what happened. He can still tell us the truth one way or the other.

That’s the real power. A choice between the truth and a lie. But I’ll assume his innocence unless proven otherwise. That’s the American way. But power doesn’t come from gaming the system. It comes from honesty and that’s what this great American Conservative movement is all about.

I will give credit to Kruse for one thing, however. I was sure at some point this was going to be an arrogant Bradenton City Councilman Bill Sanders moment of, “Do you know who I am!” scenario of self importance.

Spoiler alert: Sanders is not important and no politician is. The voter is important. The constituent is important. The citizen is important.

Politicians are employees. Never forget that basic fact. Just do the job we hired you to do. End of story.

I was happy to see that Kruse showed no arrogance, but as far as the DUI is concerned, Kruse is being found guilty in the court of public opinion based on the video. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office tends to agree, hence the charge.

I don’t understand why the deputy did not conduct a field sobriety test on the scene. I know there were some extenuating factors, such as the possibility of striking his head during the crash.

At the very least, that’s all Kruse had to say to not be tested on the scene, but a breathalyzer or blood test seemed appropriate. I know Kruse could have refused both, but that would have led to charges on the spot.

Charges were brought later when the 911 call revealed his wife’s voice ushering him to her vehicle, which according to some reports, proved that Kruse was driving.

Well, the first thing Kruse said was that he was cutoff and had to swerve out of the way. I don’t know how that didn’t prove he had been driving.

This case has not been handled well, and I don’t know how the state will be able to prove a DUI even with video footage showing that Kruse appeared to be impaired. But again, he had just hit a tree, so was he?

That answer needs to come from one person and one person alone. Kruse should put aside any legal consequences and just tell Manatee County citizens the truth one way or the other.

Being silent and letting the investigation run its course, as Kruse has told the media, isn’t enough. Not for a Republican. Not for someone who claims to represent Conservative values.

If you make a mistake, admit it. Voters respect honesty and are much more forgiving when the truth is told. Republicans have to remember that making a mistake is not a violation of Conservative values. Denying that mistake and running from it, however, is.

Even if Kruse is innocent of this charge, which he may very well be, this process leaves us to make the assumptions that are being made across social media. Playing selfish games is something we expect from the left. It’s not something we expect or will forgive if that is what is happening now.

In full disclosure, I did not support Kruse in his 2020 primary election over former county administrator Ed Hunzeker. I thought Hunzeker could shake things up considering some of his battles with sitting commissioners at the time.

Hunzeker, as it turns out, is not a true Conservative, in my ever so humble opinion. A fairly recent post of him defending the Obama’s told me everything I ever wanted to know.

If you remember, Hunzeker’s and Kruse’s 2020 primary battle over who supported President Trump the most made the New York Times Magazine. In the end, Hunzeker belittled some Facebook posters in his defense of the Obama’s and Kruse is known to have made a small donation to the Obama campaign in 2008.

I don’t doubt Kruse’s Conservative goals in Manatee County. Anyone can make a mistake, but again, I don’t think I have ever heard Kruse talk about that mistake either.

So maybe that’s the strategy now. Just don’t talk about it? I’m telling you, that strategy is played out and just won’t work anymore. Conservatives want answers.

Kruse does bring a Conservative voice to the commission, and for that, I am largely thankful. However, now I am left to wonder if he brings Conservative values, as well.

This isn’t a one thing or another scenario for Conservatives anymore. You can’t just have Conservative policies, and not represent Conservative values at the same time.

We have grown tired of that and expect more from those we entrust at the local, state and federal level. We must have a higher standard and are only as strong as our weakest link.

There is just too much at stake on every level of government to go backwards by playing these tired old selfish political games.

I’m not trying to judge Kruse. As I’ve said, I’m left to assume a lot just like everyone else, and it’s important to note that he was offered a platform to explain what happened and declined.

That’s unfortunate because this was handled badly from the beginning by everyone involved.

I’m one of the biggest procrastinators you’ll ever meet. So much so, that I believe if I Iet something sit long enough, it will fix itself. And sometimes it works.

But things like this can’t be fixed by waiting it out. More than ever, our symbol of the elephant is becoming reality. Our memories are just too good. We won’t forget anymore. And if you aren’t honest, we won’t forgive.

I guess we are all left to see what happens, and that’s the problem. We shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.

With that said, I want to wish my mother a Happy Mother’s Day. She made our childhood survivable within a troubled household and despite chaotic factors created by other family members, myself and my brothers never went a day without knowing our mother loved us with all she had.

Happy Mother’s Day mama. Love you very much.

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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.

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