Will City Council members keep campaign commitments? 3

COMMENTARY

Editor’s note: Richard Winger is a member of the Vero Beach City Council. 

RICHARD WINGER

Richard Winger

Three days of budget discussions did absolutely nothing to bring our City into a financially secure future.  The can has been kicked down the road and it is financial management by crisis.

We now have deficit spending amid millions of dollars of financial shortfall.

All the good work of the last four Councils, when they began long term financial planning, was tossed away.

Summarily dismissed was the need to address the ancient stormwater infrastructure, collapsing culverts, unpaved and failing streets  and recreational facilities in need of repair.

Instead those monies were directed to other areas.  94% of the budget goes to City departments to provide services and cover fixed costs.  With employee numbers down, there is additional need to hire outside personnel to provide for essential services.

Prior Councils, in the recent past, addressed Employee Pension and Benefits under-funding, deferred purchase of cars and trucks, and deferred maintenance and repair of aging infrastructure/structures.  More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

SAVE THE DATE!

CULTURAL COUNCIL PRESENTS SUMMERFEST 2017

Save the date for the Cultural Council of Indian River County’s  annual Summerfest Concert on Sunday, August 13 at 3 pm at Christ by the Sea United Methodist Church.  Twenty musicians from  ten countries around the world will be performing an exciting program including the works of Bach, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi, Piazzolla and Ravel as well as pieces by Lorenzo Turchi-Floris, Summerfest Composer in Residence.  Music students from middle through high school are invited to not only attend the performance as guests of the Cultural Council, but to personally interact with the Orchestra members prior to the performance. Vero Beach High School’s Symphony Orchestra has been invited to perform the first  piece on the program with the Summerfest Chamber Orchestra. Tickets, $35, are available at the Cultural Council Office, 2041 14th Avenue and on its website, www.cultural-council.org/summerfest.

THURSDAY, JULY 20

Join Main Street Vero Beach for a Networking Breakfast on Thursday, July 20 from 8 to 9 am.  This is open to all!  Take this opportunity to introduce your business to the community!  The event will be held at The Spa Downtown, inside the Vero Beach Athletic Club, 2043 14th Avenue.  RSVP to info@mainstreeetverobeach.org. More…

Back To School Party coming to Riverside Theatre Aug. 5 Reply

NEWS RELEASE

The Education Foundation of Indian River County in partnership with Riverside Theatre will present a FREE, fun-filled family event, RT Star’s Back To School Party, on Saturday, August 5th from 10am to 2pm at Riverside Theatre followed by a performance by students of the Riverside Dance Festival.

With hands-on activities, live performances, face painting, a bounce house, and entertaining contests, this community-wide event will also feature back to school information from Administrators and Directors from the School District of Indian River County.

The Food Services Department will provide fresh produce, their meal plan, and information on their free/reduced lunch program. The Student Services Department will participate with health screenings and mind-body wellness programs. The Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program will share information on Kindergarten readiness. People from these informative programs, along with After School Programming and the Transportation Department, will be available for consultation. Plus, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County will be bringing their SWAT team (Students Working Against Tobacco) to the event with information and interactive games. More…

Riverside Theatre For Kids presents ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Riverside Theatre for Kids, the educational arm of Riverside Theatre, presents the Tony Award®-winning Broadway hit play, Peter and the Starcatcher, on July 21 and 22, 2017.

Performing on Riverside’s main stage, Stark Stage, the play upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan boy becomes the legendary Peter Pan.

A young orphan and his mates are shipped off from Victorian England to a distant island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They know nothing of the mysterious trunk in the captain’s cabin, which contains a precious, otherworldly cargo. At sea, the boys are discovered by a precocious young girl named Molly, a Starcatcher-in-training who realizes that the trunk’s precious cargo is starstuff, a celestial substance so powerful that it must never fall into the wrong hands. When the ship is taken over by pirates – led by the fearsome Black Stache, a villain determined to claim the trunk and its treasure for his own – the journey quickly becomes a thrilling adventure. More…

IRMC board approves resolution to explore potential partnership Reply

NEWS RELEASE

The Indian River Medical Center’s Board of Directors unanimously   approved today a resolution to explore potential partnership opportunities with hospitals or multi-hospital organizations, with special focus on not-for-profit organizations with a charitable mission, to provide the long-term delivery of quality healthcare services to the residents of Indian River County.

The IRMC Board decision allows the Indian River Hospital District Collaborative Committee’s decision to move forward in the process by selecting the best consulting firm that will guide the process of identifying possible partners for the hospital. The Collaborative Committee will hear from three consulting firms on Monday, July 17 beginning at 8:45 a.m. at the Indian River Hospital District office.

“I believe this is a significant step in the right direction to proactively secure IRMC’s future in serving our community,” said IRMC Board of Directors Chairman Wayne T. Hockmeyer, Ph.D. “We are operating from a position of strength. It is the changing healthcare environment that is driving this effort and we need to explore the options available to us so that this community asset will be available to the residents in the future,” Hockmeyer added.

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING:

NEW EXHIBIT OPENS AT THE FOYER GALLERY IN THE EMERSON CENTER

A new exhibit is on view at the Foyer Gallery of Art in the Emerson Center featuring a variety of subjects and media created by members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach.   The exhibit will be on view through August 31.  To see the works, stop by Monday-Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 12:30 pm. 

image::Photograph of Spoonbill by Jim Gleaves

The 4th Annual Vero Beach International Music Festival continues through July 14 at the First Presbyterian Church of Vero Beach, 250 Royal Palm Blvd.   All performances are open to the public and FREE, with a suggested donation of $20, which goes directly to the MBSC Scholarship Fund.  For a complete schedule, visit www.VeroBeachInternationalMusicFestival.com. More…

Exchange Club hears from Treasure Coast Food Bank speakers Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Homer Gutierrez, Triana Romero, and Jonathan Rose

Treasure Coast Food Bank Senior Director of Programs Homer Gutierrez was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of the Exchange Club of Indian River County gathered for lunch at CJ Cannons. Gutierrez and Director of Marketing and Communications Triana Romero shared how Treasure Coast Food Bank fights hunger and poverty in its four-county service area.

“On behalf of Treasure Coast Food Bank, I want to thank you for having us visit with you today. Since the Exchange Club is very focused on the care and safety of children, I’m sure you’ll be very interested in how our efforts support that as well,” Gutierrez said.

More than 100,000 people in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties struggle with hunger, including 21,000 in Indian River County, or 15.2 percent of the population, he said. Contributing to that struggle is the relatively high cost of a meal in Indian River County. At $3.40, it is well above the national average cost of $2.94, according to data from the most recent Map the Meal Gap study. More…

Elite Development Invitational underway at Historic Dodgertown Reply

NEWS RELEASE 

Week One of Baseball (Ages 13-14) Features Appx. 130 Amateur Players with Diverse Backgrounds Learning from Former Major League Players and Coaches in a Spring Training-Environment

Schedule Includes Player Workouts, Games and Special Presentations by Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and Former Major League Manager Bo Porter

Details for Week Two of Baseball (Ages 15-17), Including a Visit by Commissioner Rob Manfred, And Softball Week (Ages 18u) to be Announced at a Later Date

  More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING:

VERO BEACH INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL THIS WEEK

The 4th Annual Vero Beach International Music Festival will be held from July 5-14 at the First Presbyterian Church of Vero Beach, 250 Royal Palm Blvd.  This is a one-of-a-kind festival that will feature performances from world-class musicians and singers in Americana, Rock, Celtic, World, and Jazz, as well as local and international students from the Mike Block String Camp.  All performances are open to the public and FREE, with a suggested donation of $20, which goes directly to the MBSC Scholarship Fund.  For a complete schedule, visit www.VeroBeachInternationalMusicFestival.com.

FRIDAY JULY 7

SEASON PREVIEW RECEPTION AT CENTER FOR SPIRITUAL CARE

The Center for Spiritual Care, 1550 25 Street in Vero Beach is hosting a reception on Friday, July 7 from 5 to 7 pm that features the work of artists with shows for the 2017-18 Season. Coming Attractions:  A Preview of 2017-18 Art at the Center presents the work of Bonnie Bolton, Rene Guerin, Joel Johnson, Regan Kenyon, Mark Kirby, Shotsie Cain Lajoie, Doraté Muller and George Paxton.  The exhibit will be on view throughout the summer.  Call 772-567-1233 for viewing hours.

 

 

FIRST FRIDAY GALLERY STROLL THIS WEEK

The First Friday Gallery Stroll will be on Friday, July 7 from 5 to 8 pm along 14th Avenue downtown. Here’s a preview of the new exhibits:

Gallery 14 features new work and old favorites by artist-owners and represented artists.  The Artists Guild Gallery’s resident artists present works with “On the Road” as the theme.  Main Street Vero Beach hosts guest artist, Myrna Renkert, (at left) a jewelry artisan and owner of Local Color Sea Glass.  Flametree Clay Gallery is exhibiting works with a patriotic theme to celebrate our nation’s independence.

More…

Meter at City’s outside utility counsel running – now $136,757 2

MARK SCHUMANN

The City has not yet received an invoice from its outside utility counsel for work done in June. But the bill is now in for May, and it totals $73,051. Through the end of May, the Tampa based law firm of Carlton Fields has billed the City a total of $136,757 for crafting a letter of intent with Florida Power and Light, and working on contractual obligations the City has with Florida Municipal Power Agency and the Orlando Utilities Commission. These legal fees are ultimately paid by the City’s electric customers.

At some point, if the City is to be released of its long term obligations to the FMPA, all of the agency’s member cities will have to agree to the terms of just over $100 million.  One veto, presumably, will kill the deal.

On the OUC front, FPL had allowed for $20 million in its total offer of $185 million to settle the City’s wholesale power contracts. The OUC, however, has put Vero Beach on notice that the actual damages it will suffer could far exceed $20 million, perhaps as much as $50 million.  Resolving the difference could require expensive mediation, and perhaps even more costly litigation.

In negotiating the now defunct and shelved 2013 purchase sand sale agreement between FPL and Vero Beach, the law firm of Edwards Wildman charged more than $1 million. Edwards and Wildman was replaced by Tallahassee utility counsel Schef Wright. At half the hourly rate of Edwards Wildman, Wright defended the City against a lawsuit pursued by the Town of Indian River Shores. Wright also negotiated a revised agreement with the OUC that shortened the length of the contract and cut City’s wholesale power bills.

In dismissing Wright and hiring attorneys with Carlton Fields, Council members Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, again signed the City up with a $500-an-hour attorneys.

 

Independence – gained and protected at a price 1

On this Independence Day, InsideVero salutes all residents of Vero Beach and Indian River County who have protected our cherished liberties through service in the United States Armed Forces. Below left is Vero Beach resident, Colonel Jim Thompson, U.S. Army Retired. Thompson, a graduate of Vero Beach Senior High School, completed ROTC training at Mercer University. He began two years of active duty service in September, 1954 at Fort Lee, Virginia, and served another 28 years in the United States Army Reserves, retiring in 1984 as Colonel. He served a total of 30 years and 30 days. Thompson and his wife, Lois, live in Vero Beach.

State Attorney asked to review Laura Moss’s handling of public records 7

Laura Moss

For a full ten days in advance of the release of Florida Power and Light’s letter of intent to acquire Vero Electric, Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss kept in her private possession a draft of the document. On May 1, Moss received the draft in an email from the City’s outside utility counsel with the law firm of Carlton Fields.

Rather than sending the correspondence to Moss’s official City of Vero Beach email address, the outside counsel instead directed  it to the Mayor’s private email address. Despite the fact that the documents in Moss’s possession should have been immediately forwarded to the City Clerk’s Office and made a part of the public records, Moss withheld the information until the afternoon of May 10. Without question the documents in Moss’s possession were the legitimate subject of public records requests made by Brian Heady, InsideVero and the Press Journal on May 2, May 6 and May 8,

Today, in an email to Assistant State Attorney Chris Taylor, InsideVero editor and publisher Mark Schumann set forth the reasons why he believes Moss should be investigated for a possible violation of Florida’s open records laws. The following is the full text of Schumann’s letter to Taylor. More…

Brovont raises questions about power sale ‘negotiations’ 1

MARK SCHUMANN

Glen Brovont

“Shut down,” “censored,” and “muzzled” are a few words being used to describe the state of Vero Beach’s Utilities and Finance Commissions. As Press Journal columnist Larry Reisman wrote this week, “In 3-2 votes two months apart, the council majority of Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Harry Howle muzzled their advisory commissions from meeting to analyze the latest details of a possible sale.”

One community leader who is deeply concerned over the decision of Moss, Sykes and Howle to press ahead with the proposed power sale without conducting due diligence is Finance Commission Chairman Glen Brovont.

Brovont wrote and distributed an email yesterday raising as many as a dozen concerns about where the deal stands and where it may be headed.  The scathing email is written in code, so as not to violate the Council majority’s dictate forbidding discussion of the Orlando Utilities Commission, the Florida Municipal Power Agency or Florida Power & Light. Code or no code, it does not take a counter intelligence expert to read between the lines of Brovont’s message. Clearly he does not believe any meaningful negotiations are taking place between the City and FPL. Rather, it appears Moss, Howle and Sykes, all of whom were heavily supported in their campaigns by FPL, are simply accepting the utility giant’s opening offer.)

In addition to expressing concern about the the lack of due diligence and the apparent absence of any meaningful negotiations, Brovont questioned whether Council members are fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to the City. He also questioned if the negotiations and surrounding communications are taking place in compliance with Florida’s open government laws.  (In late April, Laura Moss received email communication from the City’s special utility council on her private email account. Despite public records requests for the documents having been made on May 2, May 6 and May 8, Moss claimed the information was “proprietary,” and refused to turn the records over to the City Clerk’s Office until May 10 at 3:00 p.m. May 10 just happened to be the date when FPL was prepared to make public the terms of its proposed letter of intent to acquire Vero Electric. Moss’s deliberate delay in releasing what should have been easily accessible public records may well be a violation of the Florida Sunshine Law.)

The full text of Brovont’s email appears below. In deciphering his memo, it is helpful to note that the “Stalking Lion” stands for Florida Power and Light, the “Elephant” for the Orlando Utilities Commission and the “Rhino” for the the Florida Municipal Power Agency. More…

Worth reading: Press Journal columnist calls for careful vetting of power deal 1

“…And while power users likely will see significant cost savings, questions remain over how the city will cope financially without the $5 million to $6 million the electric operation transfers into the city’s general fund annually…This is the people’s business. It is the people’s electric utility and government. Any proposed deal must be fully vetted, with the public given plenty of opportunity to learn more about the proposal and to weigh in.” – Larry Reisman Continue reading…

Riverside Theatre plans project for housing actors, designers, directors and guest artists 2

Star Suites by Riverside Theatre will be located on the corner of Aviation Boulevard and Flight Safety Drive, adjacent to Historic Dodgertown and less than a mile from the Vero Beach Regional Airport Terminal.

 

NEWS RELEASE

The Board of Trustees of Riverside Theatre, Producing Artistic Director Allen D. Cornell, and Managing Director Jon R. Moses announce Star Suites by Riverside Theatre, an Actor’s Housing Project.

Star Suites by Riverside Theatre, a 60 one bedroom suite facility, is an enterprise primarily created to accommodate out-of-town actors, designers, directors and artists that work or perform at Riverside Theatre. The project will include a center courtyard, clubhouse, and garden terrace for outside gatherings.

“This Actor’s Village is a project that will lead the Theatre into our future,” says Heidi Waxlax, President of the Board of Trustees. “It is an essential component to secure the continuous operation of our Theatre. We needed to find a solution to the logistical difficulties faced by our staff and management who struggle to find adequate, affordable, and available housing for guest artists – a major component to our success.” More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING:

NEW EXHIBITS AT THE VERO BEACH MUSEUM OF ART

Take a day to enjoy two exhibits at the Vero Beach Museum of Art. Watershed: Contemporary Landscape Photography, explores the increasingly fraught relationship between humankind and the environment, giving photographic aid to a concern that has reached global significance in recent years. Displaying works that evidence the undeniable impact on the earth, these photographers reveal the landscape as an activated space—one that is imprinted by mankind and marked by social performance.

 

Dan Gunderson: A View From Above features pieces composed of digital prints on a special metallic substrate.   An avid collector of art and cultural artifacts, he was fascinated by the colorful figures of super-heroes and other characters that his kids played with and then cast aside. Gunderson developed complex mandala-like arrangements of the colorful figures.   Seasonal rates admission: Adults $ 6 and Seniors $5.

More…

Not everyone loves FPL service 2

Comments to a recent post on the Indian River County Scanner Radio page suggest not everyone is pleased with the service the receive from Florida Power & Light. The post alerted readers to a down power line and a power outage west of Interstate 95 along State Road 60.
Brady Hagerman – FPL had a week to tighten the lines and they didn’t. Definitely their fault.”
Facebook Comments:
Linda Zeller – FPL does NO maintenance in Western Vero.
Linda Zeller –  I live in SW Vero and we lose power almost every time it rains. I’ve even filed a complaint with the Florida Utilities Commission. You get a lot of lip service from FPL after that. I told them they don’t have to call me, just start replacing some of these 90 degree poles and hanging lines.
Steve Demers – I had a fire on the line and they refused to expedite the call, so I called 911. The fire department got it expedited!
Sarah Mitsakos-Bass – My neighbor has been complaining since before Matthew that theres a dead mango tree tugging on the lines in the yard behind hers. House is vacant so nobody cares.
Faith Carmen Burnell-Thomas – FPL does no maintenance anywhere! The wires in my back yard caught the trees on fire and it took 2 trips from the fire dept 2 days in a row and a phone call from the fire cheif to get fpl to trim them. I called fpl 5 times prior and made complaints and I have the slip they give you that says the trees are not a hazard.
Jen Mueller – FPL doesn’t trim trees
Fa ith Carmen Burnell-Thomas – They do when they have too
Jen Mueller – I’m saying they don’t come out and trim them. Yes, if there is an obstruction at a job they’re completing but that’s about it.
Jen Mueller – Asplundh trims for them
Faith Carmen Burnell-Thomas – Fpl themselves came to my house and trimmed the trees after they caught fire 2 times at 10:00 pm
Douglas Weaver – Those sums a *&%$#@ at FPL… wish I was on City of Vero Beach Electric Utiliities
Judy Wagner – FPL is a joke, many areas in my area the poles are still leaning 4 feet from the hurricanes in 2004.

Trish Velde – They did not hit the pole. The wires were dangling lower than they are supposed to and when the truck came through driving normally the wires got caught on the truck and the pole fell. Not the drivers fault. FPL had been notified about the wires and had not fixed the problem.
Brady Hagerman – FPL had a week to tighten the lines and they didn’t. Definitely their fault.

Historic Dodgertown to host Independence Day youth baseball tournament Reply

Letter writing opportunity to support Operation Gratitude available during the holiday tournament

NEWS RELEASE

Youth baseball teams will celebrate this holiday weekend by playing in Historic Dodgertown’s Independence Day Tournament. The teams, from as far as Indiana, Georgia and throughout Florida, represent players from 12U to 18U.

Historic Dodgertown is also pleased to support Operation Gratitude and offer participants and guests a letter writing opportunity during the tournament, which will be delivered to troops serving our country. 

Tables will be set up between Fields 1 and 2 (on Vin Scully Way) with paper, pens and colored markers so players, families and guests can take a moment to thank active servicemen and women. Following the tournament, Historic Dodgertown will send all the letters to Operation Gratitude for their dissemination. Participants can know their words will encourage someone abroad. More…

So much for “conservative” support of local control 2

Corcoran touts Legislature as more responsive

Editor’s note: If House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s point is that through big spending in political campaigns corporate giants such as Florida Power and Light can gain control of local governments, as they have done in Vero Beach, he has a point. At the same time, though, FPL has poured so many millions of dollars into the campaign accounts of members of the Florida Legislature that one can now reasonably argue the Legislature is a wholly owned subsidiary of FPL. 

ADAM C. SMITH/TAMPA BAY TIMES

Florida House of Representatives Speaker Richard Corcoran thinks Tallahassee knows best.

Florida’s Legislature is more responsive to Floridians and less susceptible to special interest influence than local governments, House Speaker Richard Corcoran asserted to a skeptical and occasionally hostile group of Tampa Bay residents Friday.

 

“If you are a special interest or you are somebody that wants to curry favor, it is generally much more difficult in a comparative scale to get something through in the state government that would affect the state than it is the local government,” the Pasco County Republican told about 100 people gathered for the weekly Cafe con Tampa breakfast in South Tampa. Continue reading…

Related article… Local governments responsive to citizens

 

Decency. Diligence. Democracy. 

Where are you?  6

COMMENTARY

RICHARD WINGER

Richard Winger

There seems to be a reluctance on the part of a Council majority to examine the details of FP&L’s offer for our Electric utility.  This is difficult to accept.

The last contract was blindly signed by Council members who were not diligent about the terms, specifically to standing contractual obligations. After millions of our ratepayer dollars were later spent on legal actions, the courts confirmed those legally binding contracts.  The result was having a contract with FP&L which could not be executed.  We are supposed to learn by mistakes and not repeat them.

I have been working for 7 years to complete this sale and I am not stopping now. But it has become problematic.

When I bring up challenges to the successful completion of the sale my comments are routinely interrupted by Mayor Laura Moss who attempts to silence me. Vice Mayor Harry Howle then raises his voice, leans forward, turns towards me and proceeds with accusations that have no basis in fact.  Silence. The agenda moves on. More…

Finance Commissioners raise questions about power sale 3

NEWS ANALYSIS

“I share the concern of many ratepayers that the proposed purchase price of $185,000,000 may be insufficient.” – Dan Stump

“Sykes claims executive experience. In truth, the company he ran was a one employee, home based business. Similarly, Howle and Moss lack the financial experience to conclude a nearly $200 million transaction without advice and input from members of the City’s advisory commissions. Lacking that vital input, they could at least use some courageous guidance from O’Connor.” 

MARK SCHUMANN

Glen Brovont

Dan Stump

Peter Gorry

Vero Beach City Council members Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes last week voted to forbid the Finance and Utilities Commissions from discussing, reviewing, or analyzing the proposed sale of Vero Electric. (Like former Council member Tracy Carroll, Howle, Moss and Sykes all benefited from substantial campaign contributions from Florida Power & Light.)

Clearly displeased at being muzzled, Finance Commission Chairman Glen Brovont wrote to City Clerk Tammy Bursick, “While censorship may be in vogue, a finance meeting should be scheduled as soon after receipt of the budget data.” He added, “Even dictatorial societies found while the mouth may be shut, the brain can still question and think.”

Even Commission member Dan Stump, who headed a political action committee that raised and spent more than $100,000 supporting Moss and Sykes, is now calling for negotiation of the purchase price of Vero Electric. In an email to City Manager Jim O’Connor Stump wrote, “I share the concern of many ratepayers that the proposed purchase price of $185,000,000 may be insufficient.” More…

McKee Botanical Garden to host healthy cooking series Reply

NEWS RELEASE

McKee Botanical Garden is hosting a series of five healthy cooking demonstrations, “Lighten Up,” including one for children by Michael Clifford, Jr. and Jayne McAllister of Sealantro in Vero Beach.  All workshops will take place each Saturday beginning July 8 until August 5 from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, in the Cafe at McKee Botanical Garden. The cost for each session is $45 for McKee members and $50 for non-members. The final workshop, “Fun and Healthy Cooking for Kids” is a workshop for children only and the cost is $35 for McKee members and $40 for non-members. Participants will enjoy lunch during each demonstration.

Space is limited and advanced registration is required. Participants can register for classes directly at McKee Botanical Garden located at 350 US Highway 1, Vero Beach, FL  32962 or by calling 772-794-0601. Classes fill up quickly and walk-ins will not be accepted, so register now. To view a complete description including dates, times and fees for all classes, please visit www.mckeegarden.org.  More…

Marine Bank & Trust CEO Bill Penny receives FBA award Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Bill Penney

Marine Bank & Trust President and CEO Bill Penney was presented with the 2017 Chairman’s Award by the Florida Bankers Association (FBA) at the association’s annual June meeting in Naples.

This annual award is presented to a recipient selected by the FBA Chairman in order to honor someone who has gone above and beyond to support the FBA during his or her term. Penney was selected because of his continuous support of the association, his leadership on FBA committees, and his commitment to the success of the banking industry. Continue reading…

 

Business: Hala Laviolette joins Center State Bank Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Chris Bieber, Community President and Senior Vice President for CenterState Bank in Vero Beach, announces the appointment of Hala Laviolette to the Vero Beach team. Ms. Laviolette, with over 25 years of banking experience, is the Vice President, Commercial Relationship Manager for the Vero Beach Banking Center. She is working directly with Bieber in commercial lending and with Assistant Branch Manager Vanessa Hughes in business development. Continue reading…

 

Howle, Moss and Sykes are selling out the people of Vero Beach 5

Lange Sykes' acceptance of so much outside money in his latest campaign, (90%), suggest that, if elected, he may have an extremely difficult time balancing loyalty to his patrons against his fiduciary responsibility to the people of Vero Beach.
COMMENTARY

“The troika seems determined to make the best deal possible for FPL and for Shores interests.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Imagine the suspicions that would be raised if a U.S. presidential candidate received 70 percent of their total campaign contributions from Russian oligarchs.

The Russians don’t care about public policy in Vero Beach, Florida, but Indian River Shores oligarchs sure do. They contributed heavily to the campaigns of Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, and they joined Florida Power and Light in raising more than $100,000 to fund a political action committee to support Moss and Sykes in last fall’s municipal election. (Moss received 70 percent of her campaign funds from Shores residents. Sykes took in 90 percent of his campaign funds from the Shores.) More…

MPO gets scolded by its newest member, Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss 3

COMMENTARY

Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss (foreground) addresses the MPO.

MILT THOMAS

The regularly scheduled June 19 Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting began as scheduled but abruptly veered into controversy. The MPO is the legislative agency responsible for transportation planning in the urbanized area of Indian River County. It’s 12 voting members represent the local governments within the county. City of Vero Beach City Councilmember Laura Moss was attending her first meeting.

Twenty minutes into the meeting reviewing projects,  Moss proceeded to complain, “On this list of projects there’s not a single one that benefits the City of Vero Beach. My question is how is that allowed to happen with all these millions and millions of dollars being spent and virtually none of it goes to the City of Vero Beach?”

Phil Matson, the County’s MPO staff director, responded that the list of projects includes $16 million dollars  for the intersection of 43rd Avenue and SR60 and $6 million for A1A resurfacing. More…

Indian River Shores Councilman derails Vero Beach’s Utilities Commission 2

City Code:

The utilities commission shall meet at least once every quarter.”

COMMENTARY

“…Howle, Moss and Sykes continue to insist a partial sale at $30 million would be a good deal for the City. Just this week though, Finance Director Cindy Lawson released a report projecting that a partial sale will lead to a 1.9 percent rate increase for the remaining customers and a tax hike on City residents of 9 percent to 12 percent.”

“With Howle, Moss and Sykes in the majority at City Hall, and with Brian Barefoot and Bob Solari behind the scenes pulling their strings, Vero Beach is quickly becoming like Venezuela, a failed democracy.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Robert Auwaerter – The fox in the henhouse

Laura Moss

In what appears to be a clear violation of City of Vero Beach Ordinances, the City’s Utilities Commission has gone dormant. Indian River Shores Town Councilman Robert Auwaerter, who just happens to also be Vice Chair of the Vero Beach Utilities Commission, has yet to call a meeting of the Commission in 2017.  Auwaerter assumed responsibility of the Commission when the previous Chair, Laura Moss, was elected to the Vero Beach City Council.

Vero Beach City Ordinances require the Commission to meet to elect a new Chair.  According to City Clerk Tammy Bursick, her office has inquired with Auwaerter monthly about convening the Utilities Commission. Each month he has declined to do so.

Auwaerter is a ally of Moss, who won election with overwhelming financial support from Indian River Shores residents and from a political action committee that raised more than $100,000 exclusively from Shores residents and Florida Power and Light. (Shores residents graced Moss with 70 percent of her campaign contributions. Lange Sykes took in 90 percent of his funds from the Shores.) One has to wonder if, in failing to convene the Utilities Commission, Auwaerter is taking direction from Moss, who appears to be receiving her marching orders from Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot and from FPL. More…

The latest conspiracy theory Reply

Listening to public comments made during yesterday’s Vero Beach City Council meeting, one might wonder if blowhard conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has contacts in Vero Beach. The latest suspicion theorizes that a broadly popular proposal to develop an Arts Village as a way to help revitalize downtown Vero Beach is a dark conspiracy being foisted on the community by leaders of  the Treasure Coast Regional Planing Council. And, as everyone knows, the TCRPC is controlled by United Nations officials who seek to create “One World Government.” All of this is absurd, of course, but that doesn’t keep devotees of County Commission Bob Solari from making such claims. Perhaps unwittingly, they are being used to create an issue for the next municipal elections.  If the electric issues is well on the way to being concluded by the end of this summer, Solari, the local Tea Party and other limited government extremists will need another issue to help elect candidates determined to turn the City of Vero Beach over to the County Commission.

OUC wants far more than $20 million to settle electric contracts Reply

Winger, Young decry lack of negotiations

NEWS ANALYSIS

“Who is looking at the financial implications of this deal? It is not being done.”  – Councilman Tony Young

“Given that, as candidates, Howle, Moss and Sykes were all heavily supported by FPL, perhaps Young should not be surprised to see them accept whatever FPL offers.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Tony Young

Richard Winger

In an email sent yesterday to Vero Beach City Manager Jim O’Connor, Orlando Utilities Commission Vice President Jan Aspuru put the City on notice that it will cost far more than $20 million to settle its obligations to the OUC. Aspuru noted that the letter of intent between Florida Power and Light and the City for the sale of Vero Electric provides no more than $20 million to release Vero Beach from its contractual obligations to the OUC. Vero Beach buys the bulk of its wholesale power from the OUC.

“I wanted you to know that the OUC’s damages will far exceed the $20 million if Vero Beach defaults on its contractual commitments to the OUC,” Aspuru wrote.

FPL is now offering some some $20 million less for Vero Electric than the company was willing to pay in 2014. Previous forecasts based on FPL’s offer suggested the City would net $30 million in cash from FPL. Aspuru’s caution raises the prospect that the City could wind up getting nothing from the deal.

Despite these developments, Council members Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes continue to insist FPL’s offer is more than fair. This week, over the objections of Councilmen Richard Winger and Tony Young, Howle, Moss and Sykes voted to impose a gag order on the City’s Commissions. Those boards are now forbidden from discussing or analyzing the impacts of the proposed sale. More…