After his failed attempt for election to the county commission as a Democrat, then election as a Republican for only one term, you would think Ken Bryan would get the message. This man’s bid for re-election never made it out of the Primary, and there are many reasons why.
In a Sunday Guest Column published in The Record, Bryan criticized former St Augustine Mayor Greg Baker — informing him, “I understand what the roles of a leader and mayor are”. Bryan may think that he does, but my vote goes to Greg for proven service over his lifetime on that score.
Bryan is offended that Baker characterized his offer to be a “full-time mayor” as a “power grab”. Baker must have been paying attention to Bryan’s behavior during his one term on the county commission. Anyone who did can attest to Bryan’s haughty, overbearing personality.
Bryan showed condescension and arrogance for the City of St Augustine while on the county board. He tried to shame the City into providing sewer services to homes in the county that had working septic tanks — using those handful of homeowners to accomplish his true agenda to establish city utilities to commercial property on West King Street outside the city limits. He plays “the race card” every chance he gets and is quick to accuse anyone who disagrees with his ideas as being “racist” — whether his ideas are practical, or not.
One of his more flagrant attacks against then Vice-Mayor Errol Jones cinched any hope he ever had of political office in St Augustine or St Johns County, but he’s not able to see past his enormous ego to see it. When Bryan stood before the City Commission, denying services needed to restore the community pool at the Willie Galimore Center in Lincolnville, services that the City had contracted to the County Parks and Recreation Department and paid for, and dismissed the County’s legal obligation by saying that “contracts have escape clauses”, he was political toast.
If you don’t think Ken Bryan has an agenda, you are sadly mistaken. He does. He came into power at the county under the tainted administration of Thomas G. Manuel. After Manuel’s arrest and conviction on public corruption charges, Ken Bryan and his wife Lauren signed a letter to the sentencing judge asking that Manuel be spared from the prison sentence that he ultimately served. Using his position on the Board to protect his political crony is not evidence of integrity, honor, or the ethical behavior we entrust to the city’s Mayor.
Bryan bullied any member of the public who questioned his absolute authority. Police were called to the county auditorium when Bryan threatened a woman in a Town Hall Meeting who offered his wife a pamphlet copy of the United States Constitution. When a public speaker intervened, Bryan assaulted him. He dismissed public speakers who disagreed with him, he extended the county administrator’s contract before it was due and allowed a “poison pill” in his termination agreement that will have to be paid by county taxpayers should a future commission see fit to hire someone else. The benefits afforded County Administrator Michael Wanchick under the Ken Bryan approved contract, would be illegal under Florida Statutes today.
“With the current requirements of the city, I plan on working full-time to help the city manager and staff move forward in addressing the needs and concerns of the citizens that have been plaguing our city for years,” Bryan said in the Guest Column. The mayor is not a city employee nor does he work for the city manager. The city manager only takes direction from the mayor after the vote of the full five-member board, and city employees don’t take direction from the mayor at all.