Does Stuart-based Straticon hope to build high rise development in Vero Beach?

The Loggerhead Marina in Riviera Beach

The Loggerhead Marina in Riviera Beach

MARK SCHUMANN

Howle

Howle

Pilar Turner

Pilar Turner

According to campaign finance reports filed today, Straticon, a Stuart-based construction firm, gave $1,000 each to the campaigns of Harry Howle, III, Pilar Turner and Charlie Wilson. When asked about his company’s interest in the Vero Beach city council election, Straticon’s, Jeff Hardin, said he would prefer not to comment.

According to Straticon’s website, among the company’s successes is a $60 million high rise development in Hollywood, Florida. Currently, Straticon is managingconstruction on the $100 million Trump Doral project, and is involved in a new Indian casino project. Though pro-sale advocates dismiss the suggestion, some wonder if the persistent push to sell Vero Electric has to do with making the power plant site and the waste water treatment land available for a commercial development, such as a high rise marina resort.

Charlie Wilson

Wilson

Wesley Davis

Davis

Is a public statement that may well signal Wilson’s interest is “liberating the waterfront” for development, he said the proposed sale to Florida Power & Light is not about lower rates, but about getting Vero Beach out of the electric business.

Another notable contribution reported today was $500 from Indian River County Commissioner Wesley Davis to Charlie Wilson. Davis this week suggested the County might seek an injunction to prevent Vero Beach from negotiating lower rates with the Orlando Utilities Commission.

Though Davis and his fellow commissioners assess a six percent franchise fee on Vero Electric’s county customers, they want the City to stop transferring six percent from its electric utility revenue in the general fund. If elected, Howle, Turner and Wilson seem ready to oblige the Commission, even though the move could cost city residents some $4 million a year. Howle, Turner and Wilson have all taken in more than half their campaign contributions from outside interests.

Related Story: News article makes clear marina resort may well be in Vero Beach’s future

Related Story: Electric deal has woven into it a hidden agenda

Turner voted against restoring lifeguard hours 3

In reporting the additional rescues resulting from the City Council's decision to restore lifeguard hours cut last year, the island weekly was careful not to mention that its one endorsee in the City Council election, Pilar Turner, along with Craig Fletcher, voted against longer lifeguard hours.

In reporting the additional rescues resulting from the City Council’s decision to restore lifeguard hours cut last year, the island weekly was careful not to mention that its one endorsee in the City Council election, Pilar Turner, along with Craig Fletcher, voted against longer lifeguard hours.

Pilar Turner voted against extending lifeguard hours.

Pilar Turner voted against extending lifeguard hours.

Editor’s note: InsideVero.com received and previously posted the following letter from Eric Toomsoo, president of the Vero Beach Lifeguard Association.  While praising Mayor Richard Winger, Vice Mayor Jay Kramer and Councilwoman Amelia Graves, Toomsoo avoided reminding readers expanded lifeguard hours were opposed by Pilar Turner and Craig Fletcher.

In reporting on the rescues made possible by the extended lifeguard hours, the island weekly seems to have also been careful not to mention that its one endorsee in the city council election, Pilar Turner, voted against a full schedule for protecting Humiston Park Beach.

Three weeks after the restoration of lifeguard hours at Humiston Park, lifeguards performed numerous water rescues at the popular family beach. More…

Who owns Charlie Wilson?

 

During the Oct. 18-30 reporting period, Vero Beach city council candidate, Charlie Wilson, has taken 87 percent of his campaign contribution from interests and donors outside Vero Beach.

During the Oct. 18-30 filing period, Vero Beach city council candidate, Charlie Wilson, reported taking in 87 percent of his campaign contribution from special interests and donors outside Vero Beach. Those special interests include a Stuart-based construction firm, Straticon, which gave Wilson, Harry Howle, III and Pilar Turner $1,000 each.

In his Oct. 1-17 financial report, Wilson listed a donation from Matt Mohler of Tallahassee. Mohler words with Front Line Strategies, a communications consulting firm working for All Aboard Florida.  Conveniently, Wilson has since refunded Mohler's contribution.

In his Oct. 1-17 financial report, Wilson listed a donation from Matt Mohler of Tallahassee. Mohler works with Front Line Strategies, a communications consulting firm working for All Aboard Florida. Wilson has since refunded Mohler’s contribution.

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Wesley Davis contributed $500 to Charlie Wilson's campaign.

Wesley Davis contributed $500 to Charlie Wilson’s campaign.

Outside money is pouring into Vero Beach’s municipal election, and no candidate has received more of it than Charlie Wilson.  In total, Wilson has received 87 percent of his contributions from donors and special interest outside the city.  In his latest report, covering Oct. 18-30, Wilson reported receiving 92 percent of his contributions from outside Vero Beach, including $1,000 from a Stuart-based construction firm and $500 from Indian River County Commissioner Wesley Davis. The Stuart firm, Straticon, also gave $1,000 each to Harry Howle, III and Pilar Turner.

On his Facebook page today, Wilson denied ever receiving so much as “a single dime” from Florida Power & Light, but fails to acknowledge FPL gave $9,000 to an electioneering communications organization supporting him. When it comes to telling the residents and taxpayers of Vero Beach and the ratepayers of Vero Electric they will have to pay more to fund the deal, will Wilson come through for FPL?

When it comes to disadvantaging the residents and taxpayers of Vero Beach in order to “liberate” the waterfront for commercial development, can builders and developers count on Wilson?

Can Davis and his fellow County Commissioners depend on Wilson to capitulate to their demands on Vero Beach to raise taxes on city residents in order to cut electric rates, while the County continues to assess a 6 percent franchise fee on Vero Electric’s county customers. In short, who owns Charlie Wilson?

Letter: Turner, Howle budget cutting would not be good for Vero Beach

If anyone wants a peak into the future should Harry Howle or Pilar Turner be elected they have to go no further than Fiddlewood Rd and Indian River Drive East. I have been watching the deterioration of the landscape on the grassy area on East Indian River Drive ever since Turner and the budgeting chopping previous city council farmed out the mowing of areas in the city to crews from such places as Winter Park. (Where is Winter Park anyway?)

If you go past there today you will see the swatch of land by the parking lot west of the fence is mowed and bushes trimmed just like Vero was before the budget cutters hit the chop saw. That’s because that is the portion the city maintains. Then you see the three inch grassy area on Indian River Drive East where bushes have not been trimmed ever since the budget cutters swung their axe.

So if you want our city to end up looking like the Bronx vote for Turner and Howle. If you want Vero to look like Vero should and has in the past vote for Kramer, Old and Shupe.

John Wester

Birds of a feather flock together

Howle paid $18,158.89 for “strategic counsel” from communications firm helping All Aboard Florida

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Howle

Howle

Mohler - All Aboard Florida Consultant

Mohler – All Aboard Florida Consultant

Turner

Turner

Wilson

Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vero Beach City Council candidate, Charlie Wilson, who has taken in more than 80 percent of his campaign contributions from interests outside Vero Beach, placed newspaper advertisements and mailed post cards recently claiming to stand with fellow candidate, Councilwoman Pilar Turner. Given the post card sent this week by Lynne Larkin, Wilson may be glad he was not “standing” with Turner when she and Harry Howle, III, went campaigning door to door and shoulder to shoulder with a communications specialist working for All Aboard Florida.

Maybe Wilson was not invited, or perhaps the war party including Turner, Howle and All Aboard Florida consultant Matt Mohler that raided Vero Isles recently got rolling to early for the likes of Wilson. For whatever reason, Wilson was not there. Mohler did, though, make a financial contribution to Wilson’s campaign. In his Oct. 30 financial report, Wilson indicated he refunded Mohler’s contribution to his campaign.

Mohler is a partner with Front Line Strategies Inc., a Tallahassee based communications firm working for All Aboard Florida. In his latest campaign finance report, Howle listed expenditures of $7,335.89 with Front Line Strategies for “strategic counsel.”

Below is the post card Larken mailed to Vero Beach voters this week.

Train Wreck 1Train Wreck 2

Letter: Charlie Wilson wrongly taking credit for moving GoLine stop

Image posted on Wilson's Facebook page.

Non-copyrighted selfi of Wilson posted on his Facebook page.

Dear Editor,

After receiving a campaign letter from Charlie Wilson today, I urged all of my friends to get on the phone and thank Charlie Wilson personally for getting the Go-Line Buses out of our neighborhood. In his latest letter to this neighborhood, he tells us all to vote for him because he was successful in removing the Go-Line Buses. Yes..that is correct. Charlie Wilson attended all of our meetings (not) and was instrumental in convincing the County to remove the bus stop from our residential neighborhood. Let’s get real here…Wilson claims to be PART of this neighborhood! He never has been. He claims to be telling the truth…not so as we all know. I am laughing so loud and hard I am hurting myself.

The voters of Vero Beach should remember this LIE and Wilson’s many other lies when they vote next week. Please remember this latest Charlie Wilson LIE!

 

Linda Hillman

The high cost of believing the impossible

COMMENTARY

“…if Vero Beach voters go to the polls Tuesday believing all the FPL-funded pro-sale post card propaganda, the cost could be no less than $4 million a year in higher taxes.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Howle

Howle

Pilar Turner

Turner

Wilson

Wilson

In the fall of 2009, then candidate Charlie Wilson promised voters he could sell Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light within one year and for a net gain to the City of $90 million. It is now October 30, 2014 and there has yet to be a sale. If the deal is ever concluded, which seems all but impossible, there will surely be no proceeds to the City.

In March 2013, Pilar Turner, along with Tracy Carroll and Craig Fletcher, hastily signed a purchase and sale agreement with FPL. At the time of the contract signing, many key details had yet to be resolved. The agreement, with all its blanks and holes, was then put before voters with the promise of FPL rates by the spring of 2014. It turns out the contract Turner signed was fatally flawed. In fact, utility attorney, Schef Wright, recently told the City Council the deal as agreed to by Turner, Carroll and Fletcher in March 2013 simply cannot be executed.

Now comes Harry Howle, III, who assures the voters of Vero Beach that in any and every budget year he will find a way to cut expenses. In Tea-Party speak, what Howle is saying is that in every budget cycle he can be counted on to further cut municipal services. More…

ELC announces new Executive Director

NEWS RELEASE

Molly Steinwald

Molly Steinwald

The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) is pleased to announce that Molly Steinwald is joining the ELC as its new Executive Director. Molly has more than 15 years of experience teaching and managing projects in ecology, conservation biology and environmental education across a wide range of ecosystems throughout the U.S. Molly has a strong record as an advocate and leader in science and environmental education reform focused on building collaborations and increasing cross-disciplinary and participatory means of connecting environmental issues with people’s everyday lives. Molly will be employed full time at the ELC beginning November 10.

Molly was previously the Director of Science Education and Research at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most recently, she was faculty at La Roche College (Pittsburgh) and Project Dragonfly, Miami University (Ohio), teaching graduate courses in biology and community-based conservation. More…

Roth Interiors: Reflecting each homeowner’s unique personality

STEPHANIE HERZOG

The Roth Interior Team

The Roth Interior Team

In any home, true beauty is achieved when the design reflects the owner’s unique personality. From conceptualization to actualization, interior design is one of the most complex yet rewarding ways to express your individual style.

Although there are countless ways to illustrate creativity in your home, one of the most crucial aspects of any space is its windows- the figurative eyes of every room. With the right window treatments to suit your needs and desires, form and function blend seamlessly so that any room comes alive with your own personal touch and becomes a window to your soul. MORE…

Florida Veterinary League introduces after-hours vaccination program

At the Florida Veterinary League a team of veterinarians is ready to help you return your pet's love with the best of care.

At the Florida Veterinary League a team of veterinarians is ready to help you return your pet’s love with the best of care.

STEPHANIE HERZOG

No matter how hectic everyday life gets, our pets are always there at the end of the day to offer us their love and devotion. But as every pet owner knows, returning that love can often times translate into an endless procession of responsibilities and requirements. Even with a single pet that is the picture of health, the upkeep of yearly vaccines, check ups, prescriptions and preventatives can be truly daunting. MORE…

 

Riverside season opens with “The Bikini”

The Bikini

JANIE GOULD

Riverside Theatre opened its 41st season Tuesday night with “The Bikinis,” a musical that took the audience back through the 1960s and into the disco age of the 1970s by presenting some of the best known pop songs of the day, along with some long-forgotten dance crazes. Anyone remember the Watusi or Pony?

“The Bikinis” are a fictional group of singers on the Jersey shore who broke up 20 years ago. Now, the ladies are back together to give a benefit concert in an effort to save the Sandy Shores Mobile Home Beach Resort from being acquired for high-end development. Sandy Shores is also fictional, but is based on what nearly happened to the existing Briny Breezes mobile home community in Palm Beach County. MORE…

Sweet Charity is coming to the Theatre Guild in November

Image by Katherine JolineKelly Brown Clemenzi stars as CharityThat’s right, men, if you think you’re up to it, drop by the Vero Beach Theatre Guild between November 13th and November 30th. Why? Because Charity Valentine and her Fandango Ballroom “Dime a Dance Girls” will be waiting for you! What? Will ladies enjoy the show, too? Of course! Just don’t bring the kids, the young ones, that is.

Theatre Guild actors, dancers and singers are now in rehearsal for Sweet Charity, the Broadway musical that features the comedy of Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Nominated for nine Tony Awards, the 1965 headline read “The Musical Smash at the Palace!” At the Palace Theatre, Bob Fosse directed and choreographed his wife, Gwen Virdon, in the title role. The 1969 film version starred Shirley MacLaine. MORE…

 

 

YOUTH PROFILE: Saint Edward’s senior finds balance in a busy schedule

Morgan Benson

Morgan Benson

As adults, most of us take on more than our fair share of responsibility. We start off as worry free kids, and life quickly evolves into a never ending challenge for each and every one of us. Add all our other interests, activities and engagements to the mix, and you’ve got a full plate. Now imagine trading work for school, which means similar daily hours plus the addition of homework. Then throw in a half dozen extracurriculars, several clubs and a few international engagements, all while still a teenager. Now you have Saint Edwards High School senior Morgan Benson’s approximate schedule – yet she balances it all with an easy smile.

Her entire high school career, Morgan has pushed herself to achieve success in every arena of her life. Each year she has taken classes both in the honors program and the AP (college level) program, sometimes even doubling up on advanced sciences. For example, last year she took Honors Physics and AP Chemistry at the same time, which brought her to a total of three Honors classes and three AP classes.

This past year, she has again taken on a challenging course load, taking three AP classes as well as three Honors classes. Morgan has also received a commendation from the prestigious National Merit Scholars for making the top 3% of all high school students in the US. This means that not only does Morgan tackle the advanved classes, she does exceptionally well in them. And all the while she’s excelling in school, she is participating in numerous academic extracurriculars. More…

PEOPLE: Documentary of Roosevelt family has special meaning for Ted Chenault

JANIE GOULD

Ted Chenault

Ted Chenault

The Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelt family that aired recently on PBS had special meaning for retired Vero Beach trust officer Ted Chenault, because of a place called Warm Springs.

FDR received treatment at the Warm Springs Foundation, a facility in Georgia that he started after he was crippled by polio in 1920, when he was 39. Thirty five years later, Chenault underwent treatment there too after polio paralyzed him from the waist down.

“My involvement with polio was very much like Roosevelt’s,” Chenault said. “I think mine was a little bit worse. I   always greatly admired Roosevelt even before I had polio. I grew up as a kid during World War II, so we all felt like he saved the country.” More…

Copyrighted image used without permission shows Turner and Wilson shoulder to shoulder

This InsideVero picture was taken at FPL/COVB contract signing. Wilson or someone associated with his campaign apparently downloaded image from the copyrighted website and used it in his latest Press Journal ad.

This InsideVero.com picture was taken at the FPL/COVB contract signing. Wilson, or someone associated with his campaign, apparently downloaded the image from the copyrighted website without permission and used it in his latest Press Journal ad.

Pilar Turner and Charlie Wilson are two peas in a pod

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Vero Beach city council candidate Charlie Wilson placed an advertisement in today’s Press Journal reminding voters he stands with Pilar Turner. Wilson’s newspaper ad was followed by a post card send out today using, without permission, the came copyrighted image. That Wilson would pirate a copyrighted image is hardly the larger story. After all, Wilson doesn’t exactly have a reputation for taking the high road. The larger point, the bigger news is that this “stand up guy,” sands with Pilar Turner.

Turner, or course, pushed to cut city services, alienated and belittled staff, voted against restoring lifeguard hours, initially favored turning over the dog park to a private rowing club and worked behind the scenes to sell Crestlawn Cemetary. Turner has promised to raise taxes on Vero Beach residents in order to cut electric rates, a move that would only benefit out-of-city customers.  Along with Harry Howle, III, Turner and Wilson have received the majority of their campaign funding from outside the city.

In his Press Journal ad, which features a copyrighted InsideVero.com image used without permission, Wilson is pictured standing shoulder to shoulder with Turner. The former council member, who was removed from office after just one month by court order in 2009, is correct in reminding voters that one is fairly judged by one’s friends, as well as by one’s political associations.

One has to wonder if Wilson sought Turner’s permission before placing this ad.

The following copyright notice appears on InsideVero.com’s “About Us” page. More…

Press Journal’s Larry Reisman does not understand power sale dynamics

COMMENTARY

“Reisman and those he supports in the pro-sale crowd are certainly free to cling tenaciously to their hopes of selling Vero Electric to FPL. Meanwhile, responsible leaders cannot afford to embrace fantasy. The only way to serve the public good is to face reality, and to do what can be done to lower rates now and to run Vero Electric more efficiently going forward, even if that means handing the system over to an independent utility authority.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Reading Press Journal editorial page editor, Larry Reisman’s, commentary on the conflict assessment meeting held yesterday between the Vero Beach City Council, the Indian River Shores Town Council and the Indian River County Commission, I was reminded of a line from the The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy says, “Some days I have believed as many as six impossible things, even before breakfast.”

Reisman wrote, “Almost everyone I heard – elected officials and the public – agreed: The best strategy for all citizens of Indian River County is to ensure that the city sell its electric operations to FPL, affirming two overwhelming voter referendums on the matter.”

Where to start with Reisman’s simplistic analysis? To begin with, it is worth noting that Reisman’s publisher, Bob Brunjes, is married to a key FPL executive. Amy Brunjes, FPL’s external affairs manager, just happened to be in attendance at yesterday’s conflict assessment meeting. More…

Candidates asked to clarify post card promises

NEWS ANALYSIS

If $26 million in customer surcharges was not enough to close the deal, how much more will the customers of Vero Electric or the taxpayer of Vero Beach be asked to pay, and is there an FPL plan to which Howle, Turner and Wilson have already agreed? Just yesterday, Wilson said, “This is no longer about lower rates. This is about getting out of the power business.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Harry Howle

Harry Howle

Pilar Turner

Pilar Turner

Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson

FPL Logo

At least two post cards paid for by the Alliance for Better Florida Communities, a local electioneering communications organization heavily funded by Florida Power & Light, assure voters Harry Howle, III, Pilar Turner and Charlie Wilson will conclude the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light. “YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK,” the Alliance claims.

The FPL-funded post cards promising Howle, Turner and Wilson will succeed where others have failed raises questions about what these candidates may know that they have not shared with the public. Could it be Florida Power & Light’s strategists have a plan they do not want to reveal until after the election; and could it be FPL’s plan involves significant additional costs to the taxpayers of Vero Beach and the customers of Vero Electric?  If so, that could be the reason why Howle, Turner and Wilson are unwilling to be specific about how they propose to “bring the FMPA to its knees.”

An earlier FPL proposal to amend the purchase and sale agreement called for the customers of Vero Electric to pay a $26 million surcharge.  If $26 million in customer surcharges was not enough to close the deal, how much more will the customers of Vero Electric or the taxpayer of Vero Beach be asked to pay, and is there an FPL plan to which Howle, Turner and Wilson have already agreed? Just yesterday, Wilson said, “This is no longer about lower rates. This is about getting out of the power business.”

The Alliance also claims Vero Beach residents will save 30 percent on their electric bills if and when Vero Electric is sold to FPL.  The true savings are likely to be closer to 15 percent.

Because the Alliance for Better Florida Communities is endorsing Howle, Turner and Wilson, InsideVero asked the candidates to clarify the promises being made on their behalf.

Below is the full text of the inquiry sent by email Tuesday evening to Howle, Turner and Wilson. More…

City, Shores headed to mediation, possible litigation

Mayor Richard Winger

Mayor Richard Winger

Unable to resolve their differences over electric rates and services, the Indian River Shores Town Council and the Vero Beach City Council came to impasse today. The two governing bodies have met several time over the past two months in an effort to avoid mediation and possible litigation.  As required by state law, the City and the Shores will submit their dispute before a mediator.  Failing successful mediation, the Shores Town Council has made clear its intention to take its case to court.

Vero Beach Mayor Richard Winger read the following prepared statement at the beginning of the conflict assessment meeting held this morning at the Richard Center on the Indian River State College Muller Campus. More…

The bigger the post card, the bigger the lie

Alliance Post Card 1

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

This week, Vero Beach voters received yet another giant post card paid for by the Alliance for Better Florida Communities. Like an earlier mailing sent out last week by the FPL-funded group, this week’s offering is chock full of lies and speculation.  Other financial supporters of this locally-based electioneering communications organization include the George E. Warren Corporation and The Hill Group.

In additional to promising voters candidates Harry Howle, III, Pilar Turner and Charlie Wilson will accomplish what lawyers who charged the City $2 million in legals fees could not, the Alliance claims Vero Electric’s customers will save 30 percent on their bills, if only the utility is sold to Florida Power & Light. More…

Attention Vero Beach residents and taxpayers. Your city is under attack.

County Commissioners and Shores Councilmen continue to repeat a clever lie

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

When it comes to hypocrisy, Commissioner Bob Solari stands above the rest.

When it comes to hypocrisy, Commissioner Bob Solari stands above the rest.

No one strikes a privileged tone quite like Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot.

No one strikes a privileged tone quite like Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot.

In a joint meeting between the Indian River Shores Town Council, the Indian River County Commission and the Vero Beach City Council, the ten privileged, sometimes self-righteous “gentlemen” who serve on the County Commission and the Shores Town Council had a lot to say about morality. But for all their self-congratulating talk about serving the public and seeking the high ground, these so-called public servants continue to repeat a cleaver lie intended to convince the customers of Vero Electric they are being taking advantage of by the City of Vero Beach.

When it comes to hypocrisy, Commissioner Bob Solari stands above the rest. While a member of the Vero Beach City Council, Solari shared in presiding over a city government at least partially funded by earnings from the municipal electric utility. Today, Solari called those six percent transfers “immoral,” but he voices no objection to Florida Power & Light’s guaranteed 11-12 percent rate of return and he expressed no indignation over the $14-million a year compensation package FPL gives its top executive.  Solari and his fellow commissioners also have no apologies for their practice of annually tacking on six percent to Vero Electric’s bills for the benefit of the County’s budget. More…