The Week In Perspective 1

Editor’s note: To read the full version of any story below, click on the headline (in blue).

The Economist: Brinkmanship

Obama 2-28-15House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, listens to a speaker during the signing ceremony for H.R.203, the "Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act." in the US Capitol on February 10, 2015 in Washington, DC.  AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGANThe countdown was a nail-biter. At midnight tonight, barring any sort of last-minute deal, around 30,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security were going to be furloughed. Some 170,000 essential workers were nearly doomed to chug along without pay. A bill to keep the federal agency funded for another three weeks had died a grim death on the House floor earlier today. But with just two hours to go, John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, managed to corral enough votes to extend funding for the DHS for another week.

No one should call this a victory. Another ugly battle now looms just days away. But the last-minute deal does save Mr Boehner from the embarrassment he seemed destined for earlier today, when he failed to get enough House Republicans to back a bill that was created mainly to please House Republicans.

Netanyahu 2-27-15Robert Kagan/Washington Post: Netanyahu’s speech to Congress will carry a hefty price

Do we really need the Israeli prime minister to appear before Congress to explain the dangers and pitfalls of certain prospective deals on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs? Would we not know otherwise? Have the U.S. critics of those prospective deals lost their voice? Are they shy about expressing their concerns? Are they inarticulate or incompetent? Do they lack the wherewithal to get their message out?

More…

Indian River Shores mayor addresses Town Council’s 3-2 decision to delay lawsuit against Vero Beach Reply

Editor’s note: Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot issued the following statement today regarding the Town Council’s 3-2 decision to keep the Town’s lawsuit against Vero Beach in abeyance until May 15.

Brian Barefoot

Brian Barefoot

As you may know, an interim mediation agreement between the Town of Indian River Shores and City of Vero Beach was reached in December as part of the state-mandated conflict resolution process. Under that agreement, the City promised to move forward with a series of initiatives designed to reduce its electric rates, and to work with FPL, OUC, the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), bond trustees and others to attempt to effectuate the sale of the electric system. The City provided a report on its rate reduction initiatives on February 18, 2015. More…

March 1: World, National & Florida News Reply

Editor’s note: To read the full version of any story below, click on the headline (in blue).

Politico: Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll, with Scott Walker right behind

Rand Paul 3-1-15

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference — his third such victory in a row. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came in a strong second, reflecting a rising popularity among the GOP grassroots.

More World, National & Florida News…

How Jeb Bush’s school reforms really played out in Florida 1

VALERIE STRAUSS/WASHINGTON POST

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush waves to the crowd as he arrives to address CPAC on Friday. (Pete Marovich/European Pressphoto Agency)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush waves to the crowd as he arrives to address CPAC on Friday. (Pete Marovich/European Pressphoto Agency)

Jeb Bush talks a great deal about his record on education when he was governor of Florida from 1999-2007 and later as a private citizen through his Foundation for Excellence in Education. As governor, he introduced school reforms that have become common across the country — including high-stakes standardized testing for “accountability” purposes and school “choice” — and since then has been a leading voice in spreading his education gospel nationwide. His critics call him not a “reformer” but a “privatizer” of public education in part because of his attitude about traditional public schools — calling them “politicized, unionized monopolies” or “government-run monopolies run by unions” — while advocating for charter schools as well as voucher and voucher-like programs, which use public money to pay private school tuition for students. Continue reading…

With Shores lawsuit in abeyance, it is time for cooperation and collaboration 2

COMMENTARY

“Vero Beach and Indian River Shores leaders have everything to gain and nothing to lose by setting aside their differences and working together to make the best decisions possible to lower rates for all the customers of Vero Electric.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Faced with the option of triggering a long-shot lawsuit against Vero Beach that could cost the taxpayers of Indian River Shores and the customers of Vero Electric millions of dollars, or allowing more time for negotiations, the Shores Town Council this week, in a 3-2 vote, wisely bought more time.

Siding with Mayor Brian Barefoot were Vice Mayor Gerry Weick and Council Tom Slater. More…

Feb. 28: World, National & Florida News Reply

Reuters: Russian opposition leader Nemtsov shot dead, police hunt killers

Medics carry the body of Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead, in central MoscowBoris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis, was shot dead steps from the Kremlin in a murder that underscored the risks taken by the Russian opposition.

Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back by assailants in a white car as he walked across a bridge over the Moskva River in central Moscow with a Ukrainian woman, who was unhurt, just before midnight on Friday, police said.

More World, National & Florida news…

Poolside Pavilion now under construction at Leisure Square Reply

NEWS RELEASE

 Beverly Paris and Jeff Matthews by the location of the new pavilion now under construction.

Beverly Paris and Jeff Matthews by the location of the new pavilion now under construction.

The community is invited to the official Ribbon Cutting ceremony of The John C. Girard Community Poolside Pavilion at Leisure Square on Saturday morning April 25 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Leisure Square is located at 3705 16th Street in Vero Beach. The Pavilion is named after and in memory of the father of Tim Girard, the major benefactor of the project.

What began as a way to treat Leisure Square members to a place of solace, or some shade for the summer campers to cool off, has now blossomed into a community project fueled by a hard-working, involved and philanthropic volunteer committee.  The Pavilion will soon offer a reason for city residents to visit Leisure Square for a myriad of additional reasons. In fact, the facility currently sees approximately 500 people on an average week utilizing the pool area between Water Aerobic classes, Master Swim classes, campers and Rec Swim teams. Continue reading…

More propaganda island weekly style 1

COMMENTARY

“If two members of the Vero Beach City Council corresponded by email about City business, Larry Reisman and Lisa Zahner would be on the attack, and the story would dominate the front pages of the island weekly and the Press Journal for weeks on end.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Again today the island weekly served up half truths in its reporting on the stalled power sale. The island-based news organization has been relentless in its support of the power sale and in its attacks on those two question a deal gone bad.

Again today the island weekly served up half truths in its reporting on the stalled power sale. The island-based “news” organization has been steadfast in its support of the power sale and relentless in its attacks on those who question the wisdom of continuing to pursue a deal gone bad.

In its recent report on the Florida Municipal Power Agency board’s decision to spend and additional $100,000 on a public relations and lobbying effort, the pro-sale, pro-FLP island weekly failed to make any connection between the FMPA’s stepped up lobbying effort and persistant attacks on the agency by the Indian River County Commission.

Where is a report from the island weekly on how much money the Indian River County Commission squandered in its failed effort to seek Florida Public Service Commission approval to force a breakup of Vero Electric? And, where is the island weekly’s reporting on how much the Indian River County Commission is spending on lobbyists and a Tallahassee-based public relations “specialist” who was hired to carry out a statewide campaign against the FMPA?

Along with the “Scripps/FPL” Press Journal, the island weekly remains silent about email correspondence between members of the Indian River Shores Town Council that is in clear violation of the Florida Sunshine Law. If two members of the Vero Beach City Council corresponded by email about City business, Larry Reisman and Lisa Zahner would be on the attack, and the story would dominate the front pages of the island weekly and the Press Journal for weeks on end.

Given that we are just two months into the new year, it is impossible to know whether the island weekly or the Press Journal will win the “Misinformer of the Year Award.” Both “news” organizations are clearly in the running for the prestigious, coveted prize.

 

 

Best to let sleeping dogs lie 3

Together, cites can better represent the county’s interests on regional Lagoon Council

COMMENTARY
It is becoming increasingly difficult to take seriously the claims of Commissioners Solari and Zorc that they are genuinely concerned about the Lagoon.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to take seriously the claims of Commissioners Solari and Zorc that they are genuinely concerned about the Lagoon.

“Besides, the County Commission can work through Tim Zorc’s shadow group, the Indian River Lagoon ‘Coalition,’ set up by Zorc, largely to circumvent Florida’s open government laws.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Word on the street is at least one local Lagoon activist is working with representatives of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Indian River Shores and Vero Beach on a plan that would enable those cities, together, to take the “Republic” of Indian River County’s place on the new Indian River Lagoon Council.  The Lagoon Council is a regional effort to address the Lagoon crisis.

Led by Bob Solari, the County Commission last month voted 5-0 not to accept an invitation to join Brevard, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach Counties, along with the Saint John’s and South Florida Water Management Districts and the State Department of Environmental Protection, in a coordinated regional approach to addressing the Lagoon crisis. More…

Shores delays lawsuit against Vero Beach – at least until May 15 1

NEWS ANALYSIS

MARK SCHUMANN

Barefoot

Barefoot

Weick

Weick

Slater

Slater

In a move that may signal a preference of negotiation over litigation, the Indian River Shores Town Council today voted 3-2 to keep its lawsuit against Vero Beach in abeyance through May 15.  Last December, the Town agreed to delay its lawsuit through March 3.

Today’s action gives Shores and Vero Beach officials and their attorneys an additional six week to clarify just how much Vero Beach will be able to lower electric rates in the short term.  Though Vero Beach stands almost no chance of matching Florida Power & Light rates, some believe renegotiating the City’s wholesale power agreement with the Orlando Utilities Commission and decommissioning the power plant, along with several more initiatives, will lead to significant rate reductions.

Haverland

Haverland

Ochsner

Ochsner

The Shores Town Council’s split vote today may also be an indication of an emerging divide on the Council.  Supporting Mayor Brian Barefoot’s motion, Vice Mayor Jerry Weick and Councilman Tom Slater both voted to allow more time for negotiations.  Michael Ochsner and Richard Haverland, who once urged the town manger to schedule a public meeting for “an extremely inconvenient time,” voted against Barefoot’s call for more negotiations. Ochsner and Haverland are both candidates for re-election on March 10. More…

Is County’s Spoonbill Marsh better than City’s deep injection well? 2

COMMENTARY
A $11 million dollar deep injection well built in 2011 enables Vero Beach to operate its water and sewer utility without discharging treated water or brine water into the Lagoon or canals. Currently, the well can handle 10 million gallons a day, but can be permitted for nearly twice that capacity.

A $11 million dollar deep injection well built in 2011 enables Vero Beach to operate its water and sewer utility without discharging treated water or brine water into the Lagoon or canals. Currently, the well can handle 10 million gallons a day, but can be permitted for nearly twice that capacity.

“Given that the City’s deep injection well is capable of disposing of ten times more brine per day than Spoonbill Marsh, it was more that a little misleading for the island weekly to write, ‘Officials (County) stand by their choice in 2009 to spend $4 million on the project (Spoonbill Marsh) instead of drilling a deep-inhjection well which could have cost utility ratepayers two to three times more.'”

MARK SCHUMANN

In a glowing article that read as if it had been written by public relations consultants, the island weekly recently reported that the County’s Spoonbill Marsh project provides “a net benefit to the lagoon.” While the County may deserve credit for trying an innovative approach to reducing brine discharge into the Lagoon, the assertion that Spoonbill Marsh is a cost-efficient way of disposing of concentrated brine seem dubious at best. More…

FAU Harbor Branch to host regional qualifier for National Ocean Sciences Bowl Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Harbor BranchTeams of local high school students will gather at FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI), 5600 U.S. 1 North, in Fort Pierce, on Saturday, February 28 to compete in the Florida Manatee Bowl. The annual regional competition tests teams through quick-answer buzzer questions, and the winners earn a spot in the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB.) HBOI has co-hosted the event with the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences for 18 years, with the event location alternating each year between Fort Pierce and Miami. More…

Detectives seek help identifying earlier bank robbery suspect Reply

 

NEWS RELEASE

Detectives are asking for the assistance of the public to identify a man who robbed the Wells Fargo bank (2001 58th Avenue) earlier this month. A video from another bank was obtained where the suspect entered just prior to the robbery. The suspect can be seen entering the bank, then leaving quickly after being approached by a male employee. More…

Medical Center and Hospital Board near agreement on interim deal Reply

indianrivermedicalcenterVERONEWS.COM

Unable to resolve the differences over amending the present indigent care agreement with Indian River Medical Center, the Hospital District last week unanimously voted to scrap the whole agreement and start from scratch, even though the two sides appear to be close to an interim stopgap reimbursement agreement for the current fiscal year. Continue reading…

Who is paying County’s legal, lobbying and public relations bill? 1

Residents of Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, Orchid Island, Sebastian, Fellsmere get a free ride

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

County Seal.5The full cost of the Indian River County Commission’s legal, legislating and public relations assault on the Florida Municipal Power Agency is being paid, not by all the residents of the county, but only by those living in the unincorporated areas – outside any city. Many of those county residents are not even customers of Vero Electric, and so have nothing directly to gain from the sale of Vero Beach’s electric utility to Florida Power & Light. More…

Public safety employee organizations form IRC Public Safety Council Reply

Rick Villars and Bart Crosby, (Pres.) Indian River Shores Public Safety Officers Assoc.;  Brad Kmetz (Pres.) and Dave Farquharson, Vero Beach Police Officers Assoc.; Rick Ridge, (Vice Pres.) IRC Firefighters Assoc; Joe McManus, U.S. Lifesaving Association, IRC Chapter; Kevin Delashmutt  (Vice Pres.) IRC Firefighters Assoc ; Richard Marini Sr., IRC Firefighters Assoc; John O'Connor, (Pres.) IRC Firefighters Assoc.; Ish Hau (Vice Pres.) and Kathy Gibson, IRC Deputies Assoc.   Not in photo Eric Toomsoo,  U.S. Lifesaving Association IRC Chapter

Rick Villars and Bart Crosby, (Pres.) Indian River Shores Public Safety Officers Assoc.; Brad Kmetz (Pres.) and Dave Farquharson, Vero Beach Police Officers Assoc.; Rick Ridge, (Vice Pres.) IRC Firefighters Assoc; Joe McManus, U.S. Lifesaving Association, IRC Chapter; Kevin Delashmutt (Vice Pres.) IRC Firefighters Assoc ; Richard Marini Sr., IRC Firefighters Assoc; John O’Connor, (Pres.) IRC Firefighters Assoc.; Ish Hau (Vice Pres.) and Kathy Gibson, IRC Deputies Assoc. Not in photo Eric Toomsoo, U.S. Lifesaving Association IRC Chapter

NEWS RELEASE

A meeting of several Indian River County Public Safety employee organizations came together Monday evening, February 24, 2015, to exchange information which will keep their teams informed and educated about each other’s roles in the community.  A new organization was formed which will be designated the Indian River County Public Safety Council and originated from an idea by Vero Beach Police Officers Association President Brad Kmetz.     More…

Feb. 25: Obituaries Reply

MARGUERITE “PEGGY” B. GATES, 90, of The Brennity in Vero Beach passed away Monday, February 23, 2015 at the Florida Baptist Retirement Center in Vero Beach. Peggy was born in Richford, Vermont to the late William C. and Hazel (nee Wright) Bliss. After graduation from high school, she attended and graduated from Green Mountain College in Vermont. Following graduation Peggy worked as a medical technologist. But while in Worcester, Massachusetts she met her love Ralph Gates and together they forged a marriage that spanned 68 years. Peggy and Ralph became seasonal residents of the Treasure Coast in 1988 coming from Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They first lived in Spanish Lakes Country Club Village before moving to Campbridge Park which led them to The Brennity at Pointe West as full time residents. Peggy was a member of Community Church in Vero Beach and a member of the PEO Chapter L in Pittsfield. She was a Square and Round Dancer and recently she and Ralph enjoyed ballroom dancing at The Brennity. Peggy was always appreciative of the art community as she herself was known as an accomplished water color artist. More…