Leaning on each other Reply

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

IV.052413.Mark Schumann Head ShotRecently, I was discussing Indian River County’s voter registration trends and the resulting shift in the balance of power between the local Democratic and Republican parties, when a relative newcomer to Vero Beach, who is also a political activist, offered that he thinks the county would be a better place if there were no Democrats here. “You are probably a Democrat, aren’t you?” he added.

“I am registered as an Independent,” I replied.

I wondered to myself if the gentleman is familiar with Joseph Conrad’s novel, “The Heart of Darkness.” Conrad’s 1899 novel, of which the movie “Apocalyps Now” is an adaptation, tells the story of the exploitation perpetrated on the people of the Congo during the age of European colonialism. As much as anything, Conrad’s novel explores who we might become if unrestrained.  In the process, Conrad reveals the seed of darkness that lies dormant in every human heart. Christian theologians refer to “total human depravity” and “original sin” to describe the dark side of the human heart. More…

Former Vero Beach Mayor, Warren Winchester, passes away at 82 1

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m., April 26, at Trinity Episcopal Church.

WARREN WINCHESTERWARREN HOWEY WINCHESTER, 82, of Vero Beach, FL, died April 12, 2014. Charlotte, his loving wife of 56 years, was by his side and helped him go peacefully to heaven. He was born April 7, 1932, in Waxhaw, NC, to the late Albert Ney and Stella Irene Winchester; he was preceded in death by his brother Douglas Winchester and sister Sarah Winchester Lowe.

Mr. Winchester, a graduate of Mineral Springs High School, NC, attended Pfeiffer College, Misenheimer, NC, from 1951-53 where he received an Associate Arts degree. Following his boyhood dream of flying, he joined the U.S. Navy in August 1953 as a Naval Aviation Cadet. More…

First things first: It is time to move public comment later on City Council agenda 4

COMMENTARY

“A few showmen who have an insatiable appetite for attention should not be allowed to eclipse the people’s business.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Increasingly, at least a few Vero Beach City Council members say they are finding themselves withered and exhausted, once general public comment time has ended and they are finally able to turn their attention to scheduled Council business.

Jan. 9 - Cartoon 1Because a recent change in Florida law ensures the opportunity for public input on each agenda item requiring Council action, the time has come for the Vero Beach City Council to follow the lead of the Indian River County Commission and the City of Sebastian in scheduling general public comments later in the meeting – after public hearings and before charter officers’ and council members’ matters.

As vital as it is to provide opportunity for public input, it is equally important to allocate sufficient time and mental energy to property address the people’s scheduled business by taking care of first things first. More…

Passing through the promised land – on the way to something “better” 2

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

All Aboard FloridaBecause the Promised Land held such high strategic value as a key crossroads in the ancient Middle East, the region along the western Mediterranean Sea that is now the modern state of Israel was promising, not only to the descendants of Abraham and Sarah, but also to the Egyptians, Persians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and later the Greeks and Romans.

In a similar way, Vero Beach finds itself in the crosshairs, as large corporations like FEb. 6 - train crashCFlorida Power & Light and the parent company of All Aboard Florida, Florida East Coast Industries, seek to exert their political influence and enormous economic muscle to extract as much wealth as they possibly can from Florida.  In All Aboard Florida’s attempt to run 36 high speed trains a day between Miami and Orlando, and in Florida Power & Light’s effort to march across the state acquiring municipal utilities, little Vero Beach, the gem of the Treasure Coast, stands in the way.

Recently, All Aboard Florida sent out an appeal, urging people to ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott to continue to support the high speed rail project. “Some residents of Vero Beach have struck a more conspiratorial tone, sending a letter to Republican Governor Rick Scott, who publically supports the project, asserting that All Aboard Florida is putting profit over lives,” the All Aboard Florida’s email reads. More…

Search warrant yields one arrest, more than three hundred Xanax, and more Reply

NEWS RELEASE

DRUG RAID 4-18-14Detectives with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Multi-Agency Criminal Enforcement (M.A.C.E.) Unit executed a search warrant in the 3400 block of 3rd street yesterday that yielded more than three hundred Alprazolam (Xanax) pills, a half pound of marijuana, three grams of fake LSD, and other miscellaneous drug paraphernalia.

Sam E. Underwood (20) of Sebastian, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana over twenty grams, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance (Xanax), and possession of drug paraphernalia. Underwood is currently being held in the Indian River County Jail on $23,000 bond.

Sheriff Deryl Loar stated, “Tuesday’s meth lab arrests and yesterday’s prescription pill case are great examples of how our M.A.C.E. Unit is working towards eradicating drugs in our community. We will not tolerate this type of activity in Indian River County.”

Comment by Planning & Zoning Board member prompts ethics caution from City Attorney Reply

MARK SCHUMANN

Mark Mucher

Mark Mucher

During a quasi-judicial hearing of the Vero Beach Planning and Zoning Board Feb. 6, zoning board member, Mark Mucher, who is also a founding board member of the new Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce, advised a zoning variance applicant that he hoped he would, “save a couple of hundred bucks to join the new Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce.”

Clearly caught off guard, the applicant responded, “Ok, well, we’ll bring that up at our board meeting.”

At least to some, Mucher’s use of his position as a member of the Planning and Zoning Board to promote an organization with which he is affiliated seemed imprudent, if not improper.

Mucher’s comments promoted a memorandum from City Attorney Wayne Coment to all members of the City’s commissions and advisory boards.  Reminding the City’s volunteer board members of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, which was adopted by the Florida Legislature, Coment wrote, “…commission and board members should still be ever mindful of the appearance of impropriety as may be perceived by others in this age of televised meetings and public scrutiny.”

The Florida code of ethics states that public officers, “shall not corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position…or perform his or her official duty, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others.”

Is Turner FPL’s representative on the FMPA board? Who does Zorc represent? 2

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Pilar Turner

Pilar Turner

Tim Zorc

Tim Zorc

Though Florida Power & Light’s offer to pay the Florida Municipal Power Agency $52 million to assume Vero Beach’s Stanton I and II power entitlements for three years is no longer being considered, Vero Beach City Councilwoman Pilar Turner, as the City’s representative on the FMPA board, made a public records request today for all documents relating to the FMPA’s calculations. More…

Perhaps the time has come to hold City Council meetings in a circus tent 5

COMMENTARY

“Several people shared with me yesterday their observations that Tuesday’s City Council meeting turned into a circus, with Wilson the principal clown. I could not agree with them more. If Wilson is going to be allowed to continue to abuse public comment time with his unfounded personal attacks and delusional assessments of why the power sale negotiations are stranded, perhaps it is time for the Council to begin holding its meetings in a circus tent.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Mayor Richard Winger

Mayor Richard Winger

Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson

After twice reviewing the video recording of Tuesday’s Vero Beach City Council meeting, I now have firmly fixed in my mind an image of a Barnum & Bailey Circus wagon pulling up in front of City Hall, with at least a few clowns jumping out and scurrying into the council chambers to take their place in line for public comment time. In my mind’s eye, one of those clowns, the one with the biggest shoes and the largest nose, is Charlie Wilson. More…

FPL vice president’s letter may suggest power sale is heading off a cliff? Reply

COMMENTARY

 MARK SCHUMANN

With FPL refusing to cover Vero Beach's contingent liabilities, the proposed sale of Vero Electric may be reaching a dead end.

With FPL refusing to cover Vero Beach’s contingent liabilities, the proposed sale of Vero Electric may be reaching a dead end.

A letter from Florida Power & Light Vice President Sam Forest, which was read into the public record during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, raises questions about whether Vero Beach’s proposed power sale is headed off a cliff. Not only did Forrest’s letter raise questions, it drew sharp comments from a number of sources close to the negotiations.

Contrary to Forrest’s claims, the Florida Municipal Power Agency has long held that Vero Beach’s contingent liabilities will have to be covered, as was done when both Homestead Energy Services and Lake Worth Utilities sold their Stanton power entitlement shares to the Kissimmee Utility Authority, a fellow FMPA member. Both utilities, Homestead and Lake Worth, to this day retain the contingent liabilities. Despite this fact, Forest insists, “such a request is not commercially reasonable in any transaction and no responsible counterparty could agree to provide that kind of guarantee.” More…

Chris Beals announces School Board candidacy 1

NEWS RELEASE

Chris Beals

Chris Beals

Chris Beals, owner of ABC Printing Company of Sebastian and Vero Beach, has announced that he is running for a seat on the Indian River County School Board. An Indian River County resident for more than 30 years, Beals has been directly associated with school district activities by serving for five years as Chairman of the Indian River County School Board Audit Committee.

Beals’ wife, Sally, soon to be retired, has worked for the past 18 years as a media assistant at Osceola Magnet School.

Beals and his wife have been personally involved in many activities at the school level. Along with this and attendance at many board meetings, workshops and union negotiation sessions Beals has become very knowledgeable about the issues facing all stake holders in the school district.

“The emphasis on STEM is admirable,” said Beals, an advocate of STEAM: Science, technology, engineering, ART, and math. “It takes all of these subjects to keep children excited about coming to school each day.” More…

Again we ask, who is representing us? 2

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

Tim Zorc

Tim Zorc

Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson

The Roman Emperor Nero would have fit right in today as a member of the County Commission, which seems to enjoy fiddling around with political issues rather than addressing the issues of importance to Indian River County citizens.

For instance, Charlie Wilson played his usual walk-on screen role – let’s see, yesterday morning he performed his impact fee lines on Channel 27 after his early morning comedy schtick on WTTB and last night he performed his FPL lines on Channel 13. Ah, Tuesdays, his favorite day of the week….. More…

Scripps columnist, Rich Campbell, “Tweeting” his way into the misinformation age 2

COMMENTARY

“Speaking of financial models, I also wonder if Campbell, apparently new to the Vero Beach power story, is aware of the “financial model” Heran floated in late 2009 showing the City would net $156.5 million on the sale. That number is now basically down to zero, and the ratepayers are being asked to kick in millions to help pay FPL’s costs of acquiring the system.”

MARK SCHUMANN

The Internet and social media have made possible monumental advancements in the rapid dissemination of information and misinformation.  “I read it on the internet,” has become, at once, a means of proof and a jest.  Now more then ever, it is important for discerning consumers of news and information to not believe everything they read.

Take for example a recent “Tweet” from Scripps Stuart-based columnist, Rich Campbell, to his colleague, Larry Reisman.  “Charlie Wilson: public records request shows George Christopher been on phone 171X in a month with FMPA.” More…

Nazi? 1

COMMENTARY

IV.052313.Heady

“An attack from Wilson rings about as true as the infamous assaults Vice President Spiro Agnew leveled on the media. Agnew and his boss, Richard Nixon, tried to divert attention from themselves by seeking to discredit the press. As they say, if you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson

Brian Heady, author of “Liars, Cheats and Thieves,” is sometime hard pressed to get his facts straight.  He seems even more challenged, when determining the truth requires some level of discernment.  Bristling at having been exposed as the shameless grandstander he has become, Heady was before the City Council and the cameras again tonight accusing me personally of suggesting he and his fellow grandstanders employ Nazi tactics.

If Heady will search the word “Nazi” on the InsideVero.com website, as I did this evening, he will be hard pressed to find a story under my byline in which the word “Nazi” is used.  Having said that, in no way do I disavow the instances when my colleagues have felt the heavy-handedness of Heady and others like him was deserving of such frank commentary. More…

Council to approve new water and sewer rates for out-of-city customers 4

Charter Amendment protecting parks and recreation lands,

legal counsel for power sale negotiations also on tonight’s agency

MARK SCHUMANN

The City Council tonight is expected to approve a plan to charge its out-of-city water and sewer customers the same rates they would pay if the were utility customers of the County. The move is largely intended to address concerns among the City’s approximately 3,000 south barrier island customers, some of whom have said they would prefer to be served by the County. The new water and sewer rates will apply to all of the City’s customers outside the city limits. More…

Moody’s Investor Service addresses proposed power sale in report on FMPA power project 1

MARK SCHUMANN

In its latest report on the Florida Municipal Power Agency’s St. Lucie Project, Moody’s Investor Service addressed the proposed sale of Vero Electric. While maintaining an A2 rating on the FMPA’s bonds, Moody’s April 11 report underscored the rating agency’s assumption that any sale of Vero Electric “would include full enforcement of the existing contracts that govern the project, including full protection for the St. Lucie Project bondholder rights.” More…

Sports & Recreation: Road to US Open swings through Vero Beach Reply

NEWS RELEASE

The USTA announced that The Boulevard Village and Tennis Club in Vero Beach will host the 23rd annual USTA Pro Circuit Men’s Futures Event – the SorensenRealEstate.com Tennis Classic – from April 25 to May 4.   The tournament, a USTA Futures Event, is the largest and only USTA Professional Men’s Tennis event hosted in Vero Beach, Florida and has attracted top professional players such as Tim Henman, Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu, and Vero Beach’s own local hero, Mardy Fish. MORE…