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

Manatee County government is becoming a circus with clowns leading the way

 

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you just knew within seconds that person was a few fries short of a happy meal?

Of course you have, but that’s how everyone outside of Manatee County is looking at Manatee County right now.

They are reading what’s going on with county Administrator Scott Hopes and his irresponsible allies circling the wagons and they are shaking their heads, saying, “Manatee County gone cray-cray.”

Very much like Biden, who has officially made America California, Hopes and his allies have made Manatee County Sarasota County.

As silly as the Manatee County Board of Commissioners have been over the years – with their needless bickering and unnecessary hours-long debates over pointless agenda items – I always used to brag a little that they do a pretty decent job.

I know, right? Sounds a little cray-cray itself, but it’s true. And I base that comment on my experience of working at nine different newspapers in five states, including three separate areas of Florida.

I’ve seen the worse that incompetent elected officials can do in my time, so when I look around Manatee County at general government functionability, many don’t understand that this area is tolerable as far as government is concerned.

But I can’t brag anymore after this. The bar has been lowered to the point that it now smells like sulfur from earth’s inner core. Yep, that low.

Manatee County is now in full competition with the school district to see which government agency is the most corrupt and incompetent.

Hopes is now in possession of the starter flag and you can almost hear him say, “Ready, set, go,” as he races this county into turn one at 100 mph with four flat tires. It’s going to be a crash. A big crash that’s going to take some elected officials with him.

The accusations levied against Hopes earlier this week received strong corroboration on Tuesday with the unfortunate resignation of Jan Brewer, the county’s chief financial officer and deputy county administrator.

Brewer submitted her resignation on May 24, just days after Manatee County Clerk and Comptroller Angel Colonneso’s letter to the board of commissioners alleging Hopes’ incompetence, interference and his displeasure at county professionals who follow the letter of the law.

In Brewer’s resignation letter, she reveals that Hopes directed staff to withhold critical financial information from her that interfered with her ability to do her job as CFO.

In essence, Hopes’ reaction to Brewer’s concerns has created a hostile work environment as she was left wondering who Hopes told to withhold the information and if they weren’t coming forward on their own for fear of losing their jobs.

Seems like that under Hopes’ leadership, the wrong people get fired and the corrupt ones either get to stay or, at the very least, get to leave with a cushy retirement intact.

And as it turns out, the day taxpayers lose a valuable employee in Brewer, four of these county commissioners have publicly voted to extend Hopes’ contract, give him a $10,000 raise and opposed an investigation into the claims.

I’ve never been so ashamed of this county’s leadership as I am today. And that’s saying a lot. These so-called Republicans have betrayed us, my fellow Patriots. This betrayal will not be forgotten.

Brewer also confirmed that Colonneso’s information she was providing to the commission did not go through her office as is required. 

Brewer opens her letter with, “It is with an extremely sad heart I must submit my resignation to Manatee County.”

I think I speak for many that it is with extremely sad hearts that it has been allowed to get this far, and let’s be blunt here: Some of these commissioners who were seen as Manatee County saviors are turning out to be the Judas’s of our time.

Is this Washington D.C.? Is this the Biden administration with his circus staff running around like clowns? And these are supposedly Republicans we are talking about.

Can someone say one term for some and an end to their political careers for others? Was this really the hill you wanted to die on? In defense of Scott Hopes and betraying your constituents with blatant favoritism toward a colleague accused in a strong case of mismanagement?

This is why I said last time that Manatee County has, for far too long, put friends and connections into powerful positions. Well paid positions, I might add.

If Hopes had been hired during a nationwide search, came from a far away land and conducted himself this way, I believe this commission would be unanimous in taking direct and immediate action.

But clearly Hopes is either a friend or a connection to some of them because it’s the only explanation as to any elected official defending him without even taking a breath to at least say, “We need to look into this immediately.”

It’s disgusting and everything we are tired of. Republican or not, this is not acceptable. All you are doing is proving yourselves to be RINOs, not Conservatives.

Get out of the way and let the real Conservatives do their jobs, if you are so unwilling to protect the taxpayer first.

I, for one, as a county taxpayer, have seen all I need to see. Earlier this week, I called for Hopes to resign. Today, I call for his termination. And if he did indeed try to influence an employee to skirt the Sunshine Act regarding public records requests, then he should be prosecuted, as well.

Here’s a little hint for all you Patriots out there: If any citizen ever believes a public official violated public records laws, a complaint can be filed with law enforcement.

It’s a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

Shhh. You didn’t hear it from me.

OK, yes you did.

As for the four commissioners who decided to protect Hopes from a proper investigation and put him before the taxpayer … well, I hope you enjoyed your time in the political limelight.

I’ve been screaming from the mountaintop to democrats that we aren’t going to stand for this nonsense anymore. I’ve been even louder regarding Republicans who prove they are part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

As you can see my fellow Patriots, our fight isn’t just at the national level. We have one right here at home. As I always say, a nation is built and maintained from the community out, not the other way around.

Stay vigilant, stay informed and get involved.

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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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