Weekend Cultural Calendar Reply

New & Ongoing Events
VERO BEACH CULTURAL ARTS VILLAGE DESIGN WORKSHOP

The Cultural Council of Indian River County and its Cultural Arts Village Leadership Team invites the public to provide input into the design of the proposed Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village through a design workshop, or charrette, to be held at the Heritage Center, 2140 14th Avenue in Vero Beach on Saturday, September 12th, from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. This workshop will be conducted by the Leadership Team, local architects and city planners, with technical assistance provided by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.

This public interactive workshop will offer residents and interested public the opportunity to share their ideas with local architects and planners in creating a vision plan for the proposed Cultural Arts Village. The proposed Village in Vero Beach lies between the railroad tracks and 20th Avenue, SR60 and 18th Street, including the Edgewood neighborhood and businesses.

Following the workshop, from Sunday, September 13th through Thursday, September 17th, the design team will set up an open public studio in the business center of the Downtown Hampton Inn, working on the Cultural Arts Village vision. From 9:00 am until 8:00 pm, the public is invited to visit the public studio providing a one-on-one with residents and interested public, assuring optimal community participation.

Friday, September 18th at 6:00 pm at the Heritage Center, the public is invited to attend a presentation of “Work in Progress” by the design team. For more information visit VeroBeachCulturalArtsVillage.com. More…

Ray of Hope: In the dew of little things Reply

Bee_Macro_Pentax 67_2_RH 090415

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

 – Khalil Gibran

 

Howle enteres race for city council 2

Alliance for Better Florida Communities, a Vero Beach based electioneering communications organization, mailed out a slick post card last fall supporting city council candidates Harry Howle and Pilar Turner. The organization received significant funding from Florida Power & Light.

Alliance for Better Florida Communities, a Vero Beach based electioneering communications organization, mailed out a slick post card last fall supporting city council candidates Harry Howle and Pilar Turner. The organization received significant funding from Florida Power & Light.

MARK SCHUMANN

Vero Beach City Council candidate Harry Howle

Vero Beach City Council candidate Harry Howle

In a press release issued today by a Tallahassee-based communications consulting firm, Harry Howle announced he will try again for a seat on the Vero Beach City Council.

In prepared remarks, Howle attacked the city’s plan to amend its wholesale power agreement with the Orland Utilities Commission. Howle described the proposed deal as a “boondoggle” that, he said, will ultimately lead to higher rates. According to city officials, the deal with save the city’s electric customers an average of $750,000 a month.

During a candidate’s forum last year, Howle said that in any and every budget cycle spending should be cut. In his announcement today, the second-time candidate again asserted that the city’s spending is out of control. “We must stop spending money we don’t have to grow the size of our local government,” said Howle.

As he did last fall, Howle again hired Front Line Strategies to advise his campaign. For the firm’s assistance with his 2014 campaign, Howle paid Front Line Strategies, which has also done work for All Aboard Florida, some $18,000. The work was described as “strategic council.” (See: Birds of a feather flock together)

During last fall’s campaign, Howle mailed out a postcard advertising his party affiliation. He was later fined by the Florida Elections Commission for violating Florida’s campaign low prohibiting partisan advertising in non-partisan elections.

More than half of Howle’s campaign contributions last fall came from out-of-city residents and businesses. He was also supported by an electioneering communications organization that received significant funding from FPL.

For advertising his party affiliation in a non-partisan municipal election, Harry Howle was fined by the Florida Elections Commission.

For advertising his party affiliation in a non-partisan municipal election, Harry Howle was fined by the Florida Elections Commission.

Propping up the propagandist 1

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Steven Faherty

Steven Faherty

Lewis Schlitt

Lewis Schlitt

With his predictions proving farther and farther off the mark, south barrier island utility activist and Florida Power & Light ally, Steven Faherty, now has supporters appearing before the Vero Beach City Council brandishing his “Utility Update” newsletter taped to an American flag.

That Faherty and his allies feel they must literally cloak their message in an American flag suggests they are loosing confidence that the public still believes their unrealistic claims.

Faherty first built support for the sale by promising the loss of some $5,5 million in annual revenue to the city’s general fund could be made up with interesting earnings off some $156 million he claimed the city would make on the sale.  It is now clear there will be no such proceeds.  Rather, at least according to FPL’s last proposal, the customers of Vero Electric would have to pay a $26 million surcharge. Further, the people of Vero Beach would face sharp budget costs on drastic increases in taxes.

With Harry Howle now joining Laura Moss in a challenge to Mayor Richard Winger and Councilwoman Amelia Graves, the FPL-sponsored and instigated propaganda has only just begun.

The war on Vero Beach Reply

COMMENTARY

“Armed with mountains of out-of-city campaign contributions, Turner, Moss, and likely Howle, will attempt to form a new troika committed to furthering the war on Vero Beach.”

Editor’s note: As had been presumed he would, Harry Howle late Thursday filed to run as a candidate for the Vero Beach City Council. With heavy backing from Florida Power & Light, and other outside interests, Howle ran unsuccessfully last fall for a seat on the council.

MARK SCHUMANN

Laura Moss - The new Tracy Carroll?

Laura Moss – The new Tracy Carroll?

Harry Howle - The new Craig Fletcher?

Harry “Likely” Howle – The new Craig Fletcher?

Pilar Turner - New troika leader?

Councilwoman Pilar Turner – Will she lead new troika?

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that FPL and its local allies, including Pilar Turner, city council candidate Laura Moss, and likely candidate Harry Howle, along with moneyed Indian River Shores interests, are waging war on Vero Beach and on the customers of Vero Electric.

Whether the political elite in the Shores are using Florida Power & Light, or whether the utility giant is manipulating them, it appears wealthy north barrier island political donors will again team up with FPL this fall in an attempt to “buy” two more seats on the Vero Beach City Council.

Brian Heady being removed from a City Council meeting,

Brian Heady being removed from a City Council meeting

The odds on likely candidates are Laura Moss, who has already declared her candidacy, and Harry Howle, who ran strong last full but lost to Randy Old, Jay Kramer and Turner. Another rambling, disjointed presentation by Howle at the city council podium during public comment time, however, could jeopardize his standing with FPL and its island power brokers.

Waiting in the wings for a chance to dance with anyone who will ask is the perennial candidate, Brian Heady. The challenge for Heady, a declared candidate, is that he is strident, bellicose and as inconsistent in his public statements as Donald Trump. Still, if Howle unravels, FPL and its local operatives may turn to Heady as the lesser of two evils.

Tracy Carroll

Tracy Carroll

Fletcher

Fletcher

Turner

Turner

For all practical purposes, FPL and Shores leaders already own, or at least rent, the chair Pilar Turner warms on the Vero Beach City Council dais. During her last election, Turner received the majority of her campaign funds from contributors outside Vero Beach. Turner was also backed by an electioneering committee heavily funded by FPL.

Turner has proven loyal to her supporters. At every opportunity, she furthers the interests of her wealthy and powerful out-of-city patrons. No wonder Turner often finds herself in a one-person minority. It is as if she is serving on the Vero Beach City Council as a sixth member of the Indian River Shores Town Council – the enemy within. More…

Homeless Family Center announces new director of development Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Kim Steward

Kim Steward

Homeless Family Center is proud to announce the appointment of Kimberly Stewart as their Director of Development.

Kimberly graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science in Health, Biology, and K-12 Education.  She has extensive knowledge and corporate expertise with over 25 years of experience working in the Healthcare Services field. More…

Sept. 26 is National Estuaries Day at the Environmental Learning Center Reply

NEWS RELEASE

ELC Up Close.BPeople of all ages are invited to attend the Environmental Learning Center’s celebration of National Estuaries Week from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday, September 26, 2015. There will be a full schedule of educational and fun events recognizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s designation of the Indian River Lagoon as an “estuary of national significance.” If desired, attendees should bring their own food and drink. Admission and parking for this event are free.

Planned events include:

From 9 am to 1 pm there will be family friendly walks along the nature trails guided by Storywalk featuring “A Day in the Marsh,” and a 20% off sale in The Nature Nook gift shop More…

United Way announces more than $3.3 million invested local this year Reply

NEWS RELEASE

United Way LogoYou may have heard that United Way of Indian River County, like most United Ways across the country, is focusing on Education, Financial Stability, and Health in order to move the dial on community conditions. It’s Board of Directors has approved approximately $3,300,000 dollars for investment in local programs and initiatives for their fiscal year 2015-2016. In line with the new Community Impact approach, funding was opened to programs other than traditional United Way Partners giving the whole community a chance to offer solutions and receive financial support for programs that can meet goals and affect change.

“United Way has begun moving toward a more concentrated approach to addressing community-level issues by showing measurable progress in the areas of Education, Financial Stability and Health, the building blocks for a good life,” explained Meredith Egan, Director of Community Impact. “A good part of the 2015-2016 funding will go to programs addressing community-wide educational goals as determined by a Vision Council made up of local experts and committed volunteers. Currently we are recruiting members for Vision Councils to lead in the areas of Financial Stability and Health.” More…

Step Up Florida announces advocacy event Reply

NEWS RELEASE

In keeping with the Labor Day holiday spirit, Step Up Florida is planning an awareness rally on September 4, from 4-5 p.m. Labor Day was established to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.

The purpose of the rally is to help focus attention on those who work, but can’t make a living wage in our community.

According to the United Way of Florida’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report, whichwas released in December 2014, 30% of ALICE/working families in Indian River County do not make enough in wages to cover the most basic household budget and another 14% live below the federal poverty line.

If you wish to join in to share information about how poverty affects our neighbors and come together to show we care, the group will gather at 4 p.m. at the south side of the Merrill Barber Bridge, adjacent to Vero Beach’s Riverside Park. Signs will be provided by Step Up Florida.

Students may receive Community Service Hours for pariticipation through Harvest Food & Outreach Center, a 501c3 nonprofit organization and event sponsor. Students are responsible to bring their own paperwork.

Step Up Florida is a statewide advocacy campaign to help bring awareness to the issue of poverty in Florida. Visit stepupFlorida.org for more information visit StepUpFlorida.org.

McKee Botanical Gardens to discount admissions on Community Appreciation Day Reply

NEWS RELEASE

March 13 McKee.BOn Saturday, October 3, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, McKee Botanical Garden will roll back its admission price to just $1 for all visitors in honor of Community Appreciation Day.

Held annually, Community Appreciation Day 2015 will commemorate fourteen years since the Garden’s historic reopening. In addition to reduced admission, the first 100 visitors will receive a complimentary copy of “The Miracle of McKee.” Written by local author Suzan Phillips, “The Miracle of McKee” provides a detailed history of the Garden, from its initial opening in 1932 to the tireless efforts to save it decades later so that it could be opened to the public once again. Phillips, a long-time McKee volunteer and board member, was a driving force in the movement to reclaim and restore the Garden. More…

Turner armed will misleading “facts” 1

COMMENTARY

“What the public needs to know is how much they would save, if FPL were to take over Vero Electric. A number that shows how much more FPL customers would pay if the utility giant were bought by Vero Electric is exceedingly meaningless, and Turner knows it.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Pilar Turner

Pilar Turner

As Jon Stewart said in signing off his final broadcast of The Daily Show, there is a lot of “B.S.” in politics, and if you smell something, you should say something.  I was thinking of Stewart’s admonition today, when reviewing notes Vero Beach City Councilwoman Pilar Turner brought with her to the August 18 council meeting.

Turner, who was heavily supported by Florida Power & Light and Indian River Shores interests in the last election, was armed with a graph and a hand written note that greatly overstated the rate differential between Vero Electric and FPL.

A persistant apologist for the proposed sale of Vero Electric, Turner cannot seem to keep from exaggerating the supposed benefits of the sale. Taking her cue from local utility activists, including Glenn Heran, Steven Faherty and Mark Mucher, Turner consistently offers a misleading comparison of electric rates. While she would like Vero Beach’s voting public to believe they would save 31 percent as customers of FPL, the real number is closer to 19 percent. More…

The high cost of high consumption 3

Richard Haverland’s power bill: Part two

MARK SCHUMANN

Haverland

Haverland

A review the latest utility bills issued to members of the Indian River Shores Town Council revealed that Richard Haverland consumed 46,000 gallons of water from July 15 through August 13.  For his high consumption of potable water, Haverland was charged $373.88. In comparison, his power bill from Vero Electric was $230.72.

Ironically, Haverland’s bill for consuming 46,000 gallons of water in one month was more than it would have been, if he and his fellow Indian River Shores Town Council members had not insisted Vero Beach charge them and their fellow Shores residents the same rates charged by Indian River County’s water and sewer utility. Had Haverland not insisted on being charged county water and sewer rates, his August water bill would have been $267.36.

A further irony is that if Haverland were still on Vero Beach water rates, the savings would more than cover the rate differential between Vero Electric and Florida Pwoer & Light.

The high price of John’s Island re-use water, and more double standards Reply

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Barefoot

Barefoot

Haverland

Haverland

Some of the most strident proponents of the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light, and surely some of the harshest critics of the City of Vero Beach, are residents within John’s Island, chief among them Town of Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot and Councilman Richard Haverland.  Barefoot and Haverland argue that if Vero Beach cannot offer electric rates competitive with FPL, the city should sell its utility.

Neither man, though, has much, if anything, to say about the high rates for re-use water charged by the John’s Island Water Management Company, which buys re-use water from the City of Vero Beach and then marks the water up some 300 percent before selling it to John’s Islanders for use irrigating their lawns. Despite the fact that customers of the John’s Island Water Management Company are paying some three times as much for re-use water as are customer of the County and the City of Vero Beach, no one in John’s Island, certainly not Barefoot of Haverland, is arguing their association should sell its re-use water company to another utility that could charge lower rates.

Haverland, who seems prepared to spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money to pursue legal action against Vero Beach, buys his water from city. And thank goodness he does, given how much water the Shores councilman consumes.  During the most recent billing cycle, Haverland paid $230.72 for power from Vero Electric, and another $373.88 for water and sewer service, having consumed 46,000 gallons of water. More…

Reader Poll Reply

Reader Comment: Raw, naked arrogance 1

Tim Zorc

Tim Zorc

Solari

Solari

Flescher

Flescher

Davis

Davis

What we are witnessing with the naming of the short term rental committee, with the exception of Peter O’Bryan’s choice, is nothing but raw, naked arrogance shoved in the face of county residents. All but O’Bryan should be ashamed of themselves. I hope each commissioner will soon get a short term rental next to their homes, then and only then will they possibly reconsider this abuse of power. It’s easy for Bob Solari to sit back and not worry about short term rentals ;he lives in the city and knows there are laws to protect him from the chaos of short term rentals. – John E. Church

City officials hold differing views on whether and how to use reserve funds 3

NEWS ANALYSIS

“Further, when the dust settles and the cash is gone, the city will still be left with a property tax rate too low to sustain the level of services city residents say they need and that the current council says its wants to provide.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Facing a budget shortfall, Councilman Randy Old is ready to talk taxes.

Facing a budget shortfall, Councilman Randy Old is ready to talk taxes.

Surprisingly, when the Vero Beach City Council meets Thursday afternoon to consider an operating budget and a tax rate for the coming year, the central issue to be resolved will not be how much to spend providing municipal services.

With the exception of Pilar Turner, the Council appears to be in general agreement that it is time to begin restoring some of the cuts in services imposed by Turner, Tracy Carroll and Craig Fletcher as they prepared for the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light.

At the time, at least in the minds of Turner, Carroll and Fletcher, the sale of the city’s electric utility, and the resulting loss of some $5.5 million to the general fund, seemed immanent. Closing the deal now appears to be all but impossible.

Where the remaining four members of the council differ is not on how much to spend, but on how to pay for the services they propose to deliver. More…

More outrageousness from utility activist Steven Faherty 2

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Utility activists Stephen Faherty and Glenn Heran at the signing of the purchase and sale agreement between Vero Beach and Florida Power & Light. Though the contract, which cost the city $2 to negotiate, was fatally flawed and not fully negotiated, Faherty did not raise any objections to putting the contract to a referendum. Even FPL representatives now admit the deal, as agreed to in 2013, is dead.

Utility activists Stephen Faherty and Glenn Heran at the signing of the purchase and sale agreement between Vero Beach and Florida Power & Light. Though the contract, which cost the city $2 million to negotiate, was fatally flawed and not fully negotiated, Faherty did not raise any objections to putting the contract to a referendum. Even FPL representatives now admit the deal, as agreed to in 2013, is dead.

Utility activist Steven Faherty’s regular “Utility Update” email blasts are growing increasingly outrageous with each passing week. The more progress Vero Beach officials make in lowering electric rates, the more frustrated and angry Faherty sounds.

First promising Vero Beach voters they would net more than $150 million on the sale of their electric system, Faherty is now seeing his strident, and often misguided advocacy for the power sale come to nothing.

Why is Faherty apparently so troubled that city officials have been able to negotiate better terms to a 20-year wholesale power contract with the Orlando Utilities Commission? After all, the changes will shorten the length of the agreement, save ratepayers some $750,000 a month, and allow the city to decommission the power plant.

Faherty calls these amendments a “new contract.” Amending an existing contract to the benefit of the customers of Vero Electric is hardly the same as entering into a new contract, as Faherty claims. Though sure of himself, Faherty is off base and again wrong.

The fact is that because Vero Beach is making meaningful progress in lowering electric rates, Faherty and his fellow utility activists are beside themselves. They want rates to remain high, so they can continue to argue for the sale of Vero Electric ti FPL.

Below is the full text of Faherty’s latest propaganda piece. More…

Follow the money Reply

The island weekly,

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Apparently desperate to derail progress in cutting rates, the island weekly's editors ran two sensational stories and a poorly reasoned editorial on the from page of their current issue.

Apparently desperate to derail progress in cutting rates, the island weekly’s editors ran two sensational stories and a poorly reasoned editorial on the from page of their current issue.

The island weekly, “Vero Beach 32963,” is headed by a former professional journalist gone rogue. The master of yellow journalism was once an executive with the Washington Post, and for a brief time headed United Press International. The worldwide news organization eventually went bankrupt.

At least at one time, the weekly was partially owned by Bob Gibb, the broker of John’s Island Real Estate. Gibb’s real estate company is the island weekly’s largest advertiser, running two full pages and a 2/3 page ad in every issue. Based on published advertising rates, the Indian River Shores based real estate company is spending $196,300 a year with 32963. Even if Gibb is getting an off-the-rate-card deal, his advertising commitment is significant and has undoubtedly help make the weekly viable.

Though 32963 enjoys significant advertising revenue, the island-centric newspaper once solicited donations, but never disclosed its donors. Is the island weekly pushing for the sale of Vero Electric, and attacking all things Vero Beach, in service to its Indian River Shores patrons? In the absence of transparency, we will never know.

Annexation may be only hope for south barrier island residents 8

COMMENTARY

“Flescher also proposed Realtor Angela Waldrup. Waldrup specializes in rental properties. Waldrup and her clients, as much as Davis’s appointment, Glenn Powell, will benefit from limiting regulation of transient boarding houses.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Short Term vacation Rental Advisory CommitteeNow that the stacking of the Indian River County Commission’s sure-to-do-nothing Short Term Vacation Rental Advisory Committee is complete, it should be obvious to south barrier island residents that they cannot count on Bob Solari and his fellow county commissioners to regulate short term rentals in any meaningful way.

In fact, if there every was a case of the fox guarding the henhouse, this is it.  By some counts, no less than five members of the advisory committee stand to benefit personally and professionally from the county’s continued relaxed regulation of short term rentals. More…

FPL’s hedging losses $4.2 billion since 2002 Reply

Editor’s note: The island week’s Lisa Zahner and the Press Journal’s Larry Reisman have written with great indignation and righteousness about the Florida Municipal Power Agency’s hedging losses. Reisman even called for the breakup of the FMPA. Curiously, neither Zahner nor Reisman has spent so much as a drop of ink writing about Florida Power & Light’s hedging losses over the past 13 years. 

In April of this year, InsideVero.com carried a story revealing the FPL had reported to the Florida Public Service Commission hedging losses of $3.6 billion. As it turns out, that number was low. But whether FPL’s losses on fuel hedging were $3.6 billion, $4.2 billion, or as much as $1 trillion, those losses would likely never be reported by the Press Journal or the island weekly.  The one-sided and biased reporting on Vero Beach’s utility story by the island weekly and the Press Journal is shameful. Expect more of it, though, as the Vero Beach city council election approaches. 

FPL customers have overpaid by $4.2 billion for natural gas since 2002

SUSAN SALISBURY/PALM BEACH POST

Florida Power & Light Co. customers have paid $4.2 billion too much for natural gas in the last 13 years because the utility buys most of the fuel through hedging, rather than on the open market.

Associate Public Counsel Erik Sayler told the Florida Public Service Commission Thursday that the hedging losses, which have cost customers of the state’s four investor-owned utilities $6.1 billion since 2002, should be specifically addressed. Hedging allows Juno Beach-based FPL and other utilities to lock in the price of natural gas in long-term contracts, but prices on the open market would have been a better deal. Continue reading...

“Indian River Shores 32963” takes more pot shots at city leader Reply

The island weekly, Vero Beach 32963, once had Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar in its sights. Loar most be relieve the island rag's attack-dog

The island weekly, Vero Beach 32963, once had Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar in its sights. Loar must be relieve the island rag’s attack-dog “journalists” have moved on. They now appear focused on setting the groundwork to elect two new pro-FPL members to the Vero Beach City Council, new council members who will agree to hand over Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores service territory to the detriment of the remaining customers.

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Pilar Turner standing with Charlie Wilson

Pilar Turner standing with Charlie Wilson

Vero Beach 32963, pandering as always to its north barrier island base, is quickly earning the nickname “Indian River Shores 32963.”

Deeply troubled to see Vero Beach leaders making significant progress in lowering electric rates, the island rag this week published a “news analysis” story by reporter Lisa Zahner that is anything but analytical.

The kindest thing that can be said about Zahner’s latest hatched job on city leaders is that, in order to publish her story, trees were cutdown that should have been allowed to remain standing.

More to the point, though, the island weekly’s coverage of Vero Beach city government has become so slanted, so poisoned by Charley-Wilson-style, underhanded, slimy attacks, that the publication now represents and enbodies the very worst in yellow journalism. More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

Friday,  August 28

LIVE MUSIC AT DOWNTOWN FRIDAY

weekend - wiley-nash-band-vero-beach-floridaMain Street Vero Beach presents “Back 2 School Bash” Downtown Friday on August 28th from 6 to 9 pm.  To celebrate the upcoming football season, wear your favorite team jersey and play football trivia!  Enjoy a variety of vendors and community booths, food and drink and live music by the Wiley Nash Band.  The Vero Cycling Club will hold a 6 mile bicycle ride ending on 14th Ave at Downtown Friday.  Meet at 5:30 pm at the parking lot located at 1975 12th Court.   For more information, contact Ride Coordinator, Dave Hunter (516) 375-1836. More…

FPL forecasting millions in losses on fracking gamble 1

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

“Indian River Shores 32963” reporter Lisa Zahner’s primary assignment seems to be criticizing Vero Beach officials. One of her most outrageous attacks of late was on efforts to renegotiate the city’s multi-year wholesale power agreement with the Orlando Utilities Commission.  Had negotiators been unsuccessful in securing major concessions from the OUC, city leaders were prepared to consider bids from other wholesale power providers, including, quite possibly, Florida Power & Light.

All of these efforts Zahner criticized as “hedging.” But, what constituted hedging? Assuming Zahner fills up the gas tank in her car when it is near empty, she is, in a sense, betting that the price of gas will not go down the next day, unless, of course, Zahner burns through a tank of gas a day.

Even FPL, the favorite, can-do-no-wrong, utility of Zahner and her editors, hedges. And sometimes, even FPL’s hedges and ventures do not turn out so well. Take for example the utility giant’s recent venture into natural gas fracking. According to reports filed with the Florida Public Service Commission, FPL is forecasting a $5.8 million loss on $191 million the PSC allowed the utility giant to extract from customers to fund its fracking gamble.

FPL’s adventure into fracking, funded by its customers and not its stock holders, was a move approved by the PCS. The PSC, of course, is the same regulating body local utility activists like Glen Heran and Steven Faherty argue should regulate Vero Electric.

PSC members are appointed by the Legislature and the governor, all of whom receive millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the state’s investor-owned utilities, including FPL.  This system ensures a regulating body friendly to private utilities, which explains why a Tampa Bay Times columnist once described the PSC  as “a confederation of yes men and women.”

Several years ago, after the PSC declined to approve a $1 billion-plus rate increase for FPL, the utility giant, whose president, Eric Silagy, was at the time heading the company’s lobbying efforts, managed to persuade the Legislature to fire two commissioners who dared to vote against the requested rate increase.

A report on FPL’s latest misadventure appeared earlier this week in the Tampa Bay Times, a publication far more credible than the island rag for which Zahner writes. Given that this story is unfavorable to FPL, it is not likely to appear in “Indian River Shores 32963,” or in the “Stuart Press Journal,” whose publisher is married to an FPL executive involved in the company’s effort to acquire Vero Electric.

FPL’s fracking investment is a money loser so far

William R. Levesque/Tampa Bay Times

Florida Power & Light belittled critics who opposed its precedent-setting plan to charge customers for a $191 million natural gas investment in Oklahoma.

“Flawed assumptions, contradictions and even invented facts pervade their arguments,” FPL told state regulators on Dec. 12.

Turns out the flawed assumptions might be FPL’s own. Continue reading…

Obituary: Amy Thompson Reply

Amy Lynn Thompson, age 52, a lifelong resident of Vero Beach, died on August 24,2015 at the VNA Hospice House in Vero Beach after a courageous two year battle with cancer.

Amy was a graduate of Vero Beach High School Class of 1981. She attended Indian River Community College. She began her employment at Buckingham Wheeler Insurance Agency as a teenager and in recent years became the President of the company. Her business associates and clients had an appreciation for her cheerful disposition and quick wit as well as her dedication to taking care of their business needs. She attended First Baptist Church of Vero Beach.

She was preceded in death by her paternal grandparents, Mary and “Coach” Thompson of Vero Beach; maternal grandparents J.G. and Nellie Marbury of Albany, GA, and her aunt, Louise Murphy of Vero Beach. More…

Riverside Theatricals announces the World Premiere of Poodleful! Reply

A K9 Mystery Musical

NEWS RELEASE

March 27 - Riverside Theatre.4BAllen D. Cornell, Producing Artistic Director/CEO of Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, has announced the creation of Riverside Theatricals, a division of Riverside Theatre focused on the creation of new musicals. Poodleful, A K9 Mystery Musical, a musical created for young audiences starring professional performers, is the first production from this division and will play Riverside Theatre September 18-20, 2015 and The Lyric Theatre in Stuart, FL on September 25, 2015.

Based on the book Pansy at the Palace by Author Cynthia Bardes, Poodleful, A K9 Mystery Musical follows the adventures of Pansy the poodle and a young girl named Avery at the glamorous Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills. Continue reading…

Cultural Calendar Reply

Friday & Saturday Aug 21 & 22

Riverside Theatre presents comedians Frankie Paul and John Charles on Friday & Saturday, August 21st & 22nd with shows at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Comedy Zone tickets ($16 general admission or $18 reserved seating) includes access to Riverside’s Vegas Style Casino in the Lobby on both Friday and Saturday Nights from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.  Casino entertainment  features Dale Rieth, pianist.  Visit Live in the Loop for free concerts outdoors beginning at 6:30 pm. with Wiley Nash Band (Blues Rock) on Friday night and free Salsa dance lessons on Saturday night.  Visit RiversideTheatre.com for tickets.

Friday,  August 21 through Sunday, August  23

The Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County will be holding a “No Flea Market” sale from Friday, August 21 through Sunday, August 23 at its Adoption and Education Center located at 6230 77th St., Vero Beach. The sale will run daily from 10 am to 4 pm. This fun-filled three-day event will feature hundreds of brand new, pet-themed items including jewelry, clocks, figurines, Christmas ornaments, mugs and much more. For more information call (772) 388-3331 ext. 120.  More…

Bethel Creek House mural dedicated Reply

Front row left to right – Councilmember Amelia Graves, Councilmember Pilar Turner, Carol A. Smith (owner Don Smith’s Paint Store), Sue Dinenno (President Vero Beach Art Club and Recreation Commission member), Mayor Dick Winger Back row left to right – Vero Beach Art Club members Carol Bennett, May Brandt and Lee G. Smith, Britton G. Smith (owner Don Smith’s Paint Store), Councilmember Randy Old and Vice Mayor Jay Kramer. Photo by Laurie Lee

Front row left to right – Councilmember Amelia Graves, Councilmember Pilar Turner, Carol A. Smith (owner Don Smith’s Paint Store), Sue Dinenno (President Vero Beach Art Club and Recreation Commission member), Mayor Dick Winger Back row left to right – Vero Beach Art Club members Carol Bennett, May Brandt and Lee G. Smith, Britton G. Smith (owner Don Smith’s Paint Store), Councilmember Randy Old and Vice Mayor Jay Kramer. Photo by Laurie Lee

NEWS RELEASE

On Wednesday, August 19th members of the Vero Beach Art Club, Vero Beach City Council and Vero Beach Recreation Commission gathered at the Bethel Creek House for the new mural dedication.  The Vero Beach Art Club painted the beautiful mural on the north wall of the Bethel Creek House during the summer.  The mural is a scenic view of Jaycee Beach.  A proclamation was read by Mayor Dick Winger and presented to the Vero Beach Art Club and Don Smith’s Paint Store who donated all of the paint for the project.

Reisman’s double standard 1

COMMENTARY

“Reisman can call for transparency all he wants, but the fact is he is employing a double standard. In the interest of transparency, perhaps Reisman and his Press Journal colleagues would be willing to release records of all communications between themselves and representatives of FPL.  Better yet, perhaps FPL vice president Amy Brunjes and Press Journal publisher Bob Brunjes would agree to record, transcribe and release any and all communication they have about FPL’s efforts to acquire Vero Electric.”

MARK SCHUMANN

No one would reasonably argue against transparency in Vero Beach’s current negotiations with the Orlando Utilities Commission.  But, let’s be clear about what is being negotiated, or, more accurately, re-negotiated.

In his latest front page column, Press Journal community news editor Larry Reisman reported that the city is about to enter a $1 billion contract with the OUC.  Nothing could be father from the truth.

The city already has a 20-year contract with the OUC, the current terms of which are exceedingly unfavorable to the city and its electric customers.  For more than a year, city officials have been seeking concessions from the OUC. A proposal presented by the OUC in Nov. 2014 has now been amended with terms still more favorable to the city.

These additional concessions from the OUC came after the city demonstrated a willingness to seek bids from other possible wholesale power providers. In addition to shortening the length of the contract by seven years, the OUC has agreed to price concessions that should save Vero Electric’s customers $750,000 a month. Should it be approved, the revised agreement will also enable the city to decommission the power plant, a move which will further reduce rates.

At this point, the city’s options are to accept the OUC’s proposal for significantly relaxed terms to the 2008 contract, continue to press for still more concessions, or challenge the OUC in court in hopes of terminating the original contract. Even if the city prevailed in court, it would have to pay damages of as much as $50 million.

More…

Another side to the story 1

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

“Indian River Shores 32963” reporter Lisa Zahner concluded her story on Tuesday’s Vero Beach City Council meeting by writing, “Should the city not fare well in court, it would be in a far less favorable position to broker a deal for the Shores portion of the (electric) system.”

Predictably, Zahner did not also address the implications of a legal victory for Vero Beach.  Allowing for the possibility of a Vero Beach victory in court would have made for a more balanced story, especially considering that Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Cox recently granted the Florida Public Service Commission standing in the case.

PSC lawyers have already filed a brief with the court arguing the PSC, and not the Shores Town Council, has sole and superior authority to determine electric service territories throughout the state.

The other side of the story, the side Zahner and her editors choose to ignore, is that if Vero Beach prevails in court, the city will be in a much better position, either to keep the full 34,000-customer system in tact, or to bargain for something better than the $13 million short-sale price FPL has offered. More…