Council moves ahead with partial sale 1

Electric rates and taxes likely to rise

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

By a vote of 3-2, the Vero Beach City Council yesterday accepted Florida Power and Light’s letter of intent to buy the Indian River Shores portion of the City’s electric utility for $30 million.

Rather than pushing ahead with a sale of the full electric system, the new Council majority of Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes has set in motion a downsizing of Vero Electric that is sure to result in higher rates and higher taxes. In explaining their support for the partial sale, each member of the Council’s new troika claimed, falsely, that the public has wanted “this” since 2009.

In truth, the “this” Vero Beach voters have supported is a sale of the full system. Such a sale would, in a single move, bring rate relieve to all 35,000 customers of Vero Electric. Vero Beach voters have never been asked if they would be willing to pay higher rates and higher taxes in order to bring lower rates to the residents of Indian River Shores. More…

Wilson is back, but remains unacquainted with the truth Reply

COMMENTRY

MARK SCHUMANN

truth squadCivic activist Charlie Wilson, who more than once has promised to ride off into the sunset, was again at the podium speaking before the Vero Beach City Council yesterday. Wilson, who has long had an adulterous relationship with the truth, was again making outlandish claims and telling outright lies.

For example, Wilson claimed the Indian River Neighborhood Association has paid InsideVero.com $5000 a year “to write stories.” In truth, the IRNA has placed advertising with InsideVero.com, both online and in print. Interestingly, Wilson does not also claim the tens of thousands of dollars of advertising Florida Power and Light places with the Press Journal and with the island weekly in any way influence their reporting. More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1

Art Mundo’s largest fundraiser of the year and biggest party – Calendart 2017 – will be held Thursday, December 1 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Sunrise Black Box Theatre. 2016 will be the 7th year Art Mundo has created these unique, one-of-a-kind calendars with original work by our area’s very talented artists. These calendars are collectors items and only 12 of them will be available for 2017. One Calendart calendar will be awarded by raffle. There will also be an exhibit of other original work by the Calendart artists and live music by the Fort Pierce Jazz and Blues Society, a light hors d’oeuvres buffet and a cash bar. Calendart Gala tickets are $50 per person or 3 tickets for $100. Each gala ticket includes entry for one person to the evening’s festivities and one raffle ticket. Visit artmundo.org to purchase tickets. More…

Partial sale of Shores customers tops tomorrow’s City Council agenda 1

NEWS ANALYSIS

“Last year, Howle argued a sale of the full system is possible, if only the Council would, with resolve, implement his proposed five-point plan. Now Howle seems more interested in providing immediate rate relief for Shores residents, leaving his own constituents to wait in hopes a partial sale does not make a sale of the remainder of the system more difficult.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Winger

Winger

Howle

Howle

Vero Beach City Council members Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, whose campaigns were funded almost entirely by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light, seem set to join with Harry Howle tomorrow in pressing ahead with the proposed sale of Vero Electric’s 3500 Indian River Shores customers to FPL.

The City now has in hand a letter of intent from FPL to purchase the Shores portion of the electric system for $30 million, including $3 million to be paid by Shores residents through a three-year surcharge. The Shores Town Council last week approved the surcharge, which would be assessed by FPL. More…

Riverside Theatre presents Chicago Reply

The Riverside Theatre's production of Chicago opens Jan. 3

The Riverside Theatre’s production of Chicago opens Jan. 3

NEWS RELEASE

Riverside Theatre, led by Producing Artistic Director/CEO Allen D. Cornell and Managing Director/COO Jon R. Moses, present Broadway’s longest-running American musical, Chicago, which performs on the Stark Stage from January 3 – 22, 2017. Chicago is sponsored by Laura and Bill Frick and Riverside Theatre’s Patron Producers Group.

Winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Chicago holds the record for the longest-running revival AND the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the show follows chorus girl Roxie Hart and the murder of her faithless lover. She convinces her hapless husband, Amos, to take the rap, but when he finds out the truth, he turns on her. Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie meets Velma Kelly, another “merry murderess”. Joining forces, Roxie and Velma vie for the spotlight in search of the “American Dream” of fame, fortune and acquittal. More…

Historic Dodgertown to host holiday festivities Reply

Historic Dodgertown holiday festivities to feature movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Dodgertown LogoChristmas in Vero at Historic Dodgertown is sure to become a new favorite, seasonal tradition in Vero Beach. The event will feature a Christmas Village, an array of old-fashioned traditions and treats, a movie under the stars, and of course a visit from Santa.

Christmas in Vero will take place on Friday evening, Dec. 9, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and is hosted by Republic Productions Vero Beach.

Guests entering the Christmas Village at Holman Stadium will be welcomed with twinkling lights and carolers strolling among the holiday vendors. Seasonal foods and hot beverages will be available to be enjoyed throughout the evening. More…

FPL’s multi-year rate-increase request approved Reply

FT. LAUDERDALE SUN SENTINEL

FPL LogoFlorida Power & Light’s residential customers will see their bills increase each year through 2019 following the state Public Service Commission’s approval Tuesday of a negotiated rate-hike settlement.

The first increase will take effect in January, when a typical 1,000-kWh residential user’s bill will jump about $7, from about $91.56 currently to $98.77. That bill would jump to $102.50 in January 2018 and then to $103.70 in June 2019 before declining to $102.97 in January 2020. Continue reading…

 

 

Related story: After Spending $8 Million to Deceive Solar Voters, FPL Shamefully Hikes Rates by $811 Million

Cultural Calendar Reply

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1

Art Mundo’s largest fundraiser of the year and biggest party – Calendart 2017 – will be held Thursday, December 1 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Sunrise Black Box Theatre. 2016 will be the 7th year Art Mundo has created these unique, one-of-a-kind calendars with original work by our area’s very talented artists. These calendars are collectors items and only 12 of them will be available for 2017.  One Calendart calendar will be awarded by raffle. There will also be an exhibit of other original work by the Calendart artists and live music by the Fort Pierce Jazz and Blues Society, a light hors d’oeuvres buffet and a cash bar.  Calendart Gala tickets are $50 per person or 3 tickets for $100. Each gala ticket includes entry for one person to the evening’s festivities and one raffle ticket. Visit artmundo.org to purchase tickets. More…

Skate Park organizers looking for an ‘angel’ Reply

NEWS RELEASE

skate-park-datauri-fileIndian River County has approximately 11,000 skateboarders, bicycle motor cross (BMX) and in-line skaters using the streets, parks, business store fronts and homemade ramps to practice their action sports.  The community has only one small skate park in Sebastian for skateboarders but BMX and in-line skating is prohibited.  Police can issue citations of $15 to those who violate ordinances prohibiting skateboarding on certain streets and parks in Vero Beach and Indian River County.    

In February 2016, the City of Vero Beach City Council voted to allow the Vero Beach Skate Park Alliance (VBSPA), a non- profit organization, to raise money to build a skate park at Leisure Square, the City’s health and wellness complex on 16th Street.  Since then the VBSPA has been spreading the word about the need for a skate park and looking for an “Angel Investor” to help with its $1 million price tag.  More…

Ray of Hope Reply

vero-beach-castaway-cove-dune-line

All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power.

If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them.

If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them. – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

The great deception 1

No one can serve two masters

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Dan Stump

Dan Stump

Lange Sykes

Lange Sykes

Laura Moss

Laura Moss

During the recent Vero Beach City Council election, a political action committee headed by Dan Stump and funded by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light promised voters a sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customers would result in a $30 million windfall that could be used to:

 

“Completely suspend ALL Ad Valorem taxes for the next 5 years”

“Lower the current Ad Valorem tax rate by 20% for the next 25 year”

“Suspend Utility Taxes for Vero Beach residents for the next 14 years”

“Pay for Vero Beach’s 4th of July Celebration for the next 2,000 years”

“Write a check to every single Vero Beach resident of Vero Beach for $1,941.09: for a family of four that’s $7,884.36”

“Pay off 80% of the $37 million that Vero owes in unfunded pension liabilities”

“Fully fund Vero Beach’s Police Department for the next 4 years”

As Vero Beach resident Steven McDonald explained during last week’s City Council meeting, the City’s bond covenants require that any proceeds from a sale of Vero Electric’s assets must be kept in the electric fund, and cannot be used to subsidize operating expenses. Further, and just as importantly, the proceeds from a partial sale can certainly not be used in any of the ways promised by the FPL-Shores-funded deception machine known as “Clean Sweep For A Brighter Future.”

Newly elected Council member Laura Moss and Lange Sykes seem determined to join Harry Howle in pushing the partial sale forward. Like Howle, they are prepared to reject the advice of five independent utility experts. Hired by the City to determine a “break-even” price, this group concluded that any partial sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customers for less than $47 million would lead to higher electric rates and higher taxes.

Accepting FPL’s offer of $30 million will certainly benefit FPL and Shores residents, but it also seems certain to disadvantage the remaining customers of Vero Electric and the residents of Vero Beach. Given that Moss and Sykes received nearly all their campaign contribution from Shores residents, and considering that they were supported by an FPL-Shores-funded PAC that flooded local mail boxes with political flyers full of lies and misinformation, it should come as little surprise that the Council’s newest members are willing to join Howle in selling out their own constituents in order to appease their patrons in the Shores and at FPL.

Above is screen shot from Operation Flip Switch's website. The Shore-FPL funded political action committee that supported Laura Moss and Lange Sykes turned out to be a misinformation machine. If Vero Beach is to honor its bond covenants and is to avoid destroying its credit rating, any proceeds from a sale of Vero Electric's shores customers will have to remain in the utility fund, and cannot be used in any of the ways promised by the FPL-Shores funded PAC that supposed Moss and Sykes.

Above is screen shot from Operation Flip Switch’s website. The Shores-FPL funded political action committee that supported Laura Moss and Lange Sykes turned out to be a misinformation machine. If Vero Beach is to honor its bond covenants and is to avoid destroying its credit rating, any proceeds from a sale of Vero Electric’s shores customers will have to remain in the utility fund, and cannot be used in any of the ways promised by the FPL-Shores funded PAC that supported Moss and Sykes.

FMPA summary of Nov. 22 Vero Beach City Council meeting 3

Laura Moss

Laura Moss

FPL Logo

Lange Sykes

Lange Sykes

Editor’s note: Newly elected Vero Beach City Council members Laura Moss and Lange Sykes received the vast majority of their financial support from Indian River Shores residents. Seventy percent of Moss’ contributions came from Shores interests. Sykes received 90% of his campaign funds from residents in the neighboring community. Both Moss and Sykes were supported by a political action committee that received $55,000 from Florida Power and Light, and another $60,000 from Shores residents. Moss and Sykes have now joined with Councilman Harry Howle in supporting a sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customers to FPL for $30 million. A team of five independent utility experts determined it will take, not $30 million, but $47 million to keep the proposed sale from leading to higher electric rates for the remaining customers and higher taxes for the residents of Vero Beach.

MARK SCHUMANN

In a memo written Nov. 22, Florida Municipal Power Agency staffer, Amanda Swindle, summarized the Vero Beach City Council’s discussion of a partial sale of the City’s Indian River Shores customer base to Florida Power and Light, as well as the termination of special utility counsel, Schef Wright.

Unlike the local press, namely the Press Journal, Swindle took note of Councilman Richard Winger’s effort to persuade the new Council majority to submit the proposed sale to the Finance Commission for review.

Below is the full text of an internal FMPA memo distributed to staff and members of the association’s board of directors and executive committee. The memo is a pubic record.

Vero Beach City Council Meeting – 11/22/16

The Vero Beach City Council met on Tuesday, November 22, at 9:30 a.m. This was the first City Council meeting after the November election. Laura Moss was nominated to serve as mayor, with Harry Howell designated as vice-mayor, for the 2016-2017 term. Later in the meeting Laura Moss was named as the Vero Beach representative to the FMPA Board. Two items on the agenda were of relevance—(1) “Discussion of Partial Sale (Vero Electric),” and (2) “Discussion to consider halting the service of Schef Wright.”

(1) Discussion of Partial Sale More…

FPL: Rates going up Jan. 1 no matter what Reply

SUN SENTINEL

FPL LogoIf the Public Service Commission approves the negotiated rate at a conference scheduled on Nov. 29, a user of about 1,000-kWh a month would see their bill increase about $7 — from about $91.56 currently to $98.77 in January.

Two more increases would follow, to an estimated $102.50 in January 2018 and $103.70 in June 2019 before declining to $102.97 in January 2020.

If the commission fails to approve the negotiated rate, the 1,000-kWh monthly users would pay nearly $10 a month more right away, as outlined in the originally proposed rate-hike schedule — from $91.56 now to $101.18 in January. Continue reading…

Editor’s note: To FPL’s rate Jan. 1, 2017 rate of $98.77 would be added a 6% franchise fee, making the bill for 1000 kWh for Vero Beach residents $104.70. Vero Electric’s rate as of Jan. 1 will be $116.08, a difference of $11.38 per month, or $136.50 per year. Put in context, the loss of the annual transfer from the electric fund to the General Fund resulting from a sale of Vero Electric would require a doubling in the City’s real estate taxes, a drastic cut in municipal services, or a combination of the two.

 

 

New council majority fires special utility counsel, votes to move ahead with partial sale 3

Has Howle given up on sale of Vero Electric?

When Harry Howle ran for the Vero Beach City Council in 2015, he offered a five-point plan for selling Vero Electric. None of his proposals included a partial sale to the Shores. Now Howle argues a partial sale is somehow a essential step in moving toward a sale of the remainder of the utility system.

When Harry Howle ran for the Vero Beach City Council in 2015, he offered a five-point plan for selling Vero Electric. None of his proposals have been implemented, and, more importantly, none included a partial sale to the Shores. Now Howle argues that downsizing Vero Electric by selling off the Shores customer base is somehow an essential step in moving toward a sale of the remainder of the utility system.

COMMENTARY

“Echoing Brunjes, Moss, Sykes and Howle all said a sale of Vero Beach’s Shores customers is now a vital step toward a sale of the full system, though no one, including Brunjes, explained how a partial sale would clear the way for a sale of the remainder of Vero Electric. Howle’s support for a partial sale suggests he may no longer believe in the 5-point plan he laid out last year.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Newspaper advertisements like this one placed by a political action committee funded by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light assured voters Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Norman Wells can be counted on to conclude the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. On the strength of their promise to lower electric rates for everyone Moss and Sykes won election to the Council. Now Moss and Sykes have joined with Councilman Harry Howle to support a sale of the Shores customer base. The ad also made misleading promises about how the expected $30 million in sale proceeds could be used.

Newspaper advertisements like this one placed by a political action committee funded by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light assured voters Laura Moss and Lange Sykes could be counted on to conclude the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. On the strength of their promise to lower electric rates for everyone Moss and Sykes won election to the Council. Now Moss and Sykes have joined with Councilman Harry Howle to support a sale of the Shores customer base. The ad also made misleading promises about how the expected $30 million in sale proceeds could be used.

Joining Vero Beach City Councilman Harry Howle in a new majority, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, whose campaigns were heavily backed by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light, took their place on the Vero Beach City Council this week. Together, Howle, Moss and Sykes acted quickly to re-start negotiations on a sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers to FPL.

The new council majority also voted yesterday to fire the City’s special utility council, Schef Wright. Wright has successfully represented the City before the Florida Pubic Service Commission and the Florida Supreme Court in cases brought by Indian River Shores and by the Indian River County Commission. Wright also led the negotiations on a revised wholesale power agreement with the Orlando Utilities Commission.

When first hired by the City, Wright received a letter of congratulations from FPL’s lead counsel. Now Moss, Sykes and Howle argue he is somehow in collaboration with the Florida Municipal Power Agency to block the sale of Vero Electric. Throughout his time in working for the City, Wright has continued discussions with FPL on how to move the sale forward, and all along FPL officials have said they have no new ideas for how to resolve Vero Beach’s contract obligations with the FMPA and its bondholders.

In a letter dated Nov. 18, Wright wrote, “…the sale process was, in practical terms, suspended when the OUC and the FMPA were unable to agree on terms that would satisfy their respective bond covenants and bond counsel.”

Several months ago, FPL offered $13 million, and later $30 million, for Vero Electric’s Shores customers. A team of five independent utility experts, hired by the City and led by Wright, calculated that carving off the City’s Shores customers and downsizing the system would require a sale price of $47 million, without the move leading to higher electric rates and higher taxes.  By a vote of 3-2, the previous Council rejected FPL’s $30 million offer but let it be known the City would consider an offer at $47 million. More…

County to seek membership in Lagoon Council 2

MARK SCHUMANN

Susan Adams

Susan Adams

Signaling a possible improvement in intergovernmental relations, the Indian River County Commission yesterday voted to seek admission in the Indian River Lagoon Council.

Newly elected Commissioner, Susan Adams, was joined by Lagoon advocate, Tim Zorc, and Peter O’Bryan in reversing the Commission’s staunch resistance to participating with Brevard, Saint Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties, along with the St. John’s Water Management District, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protect in a multi-county, intergovernmental effort to address the Indian River Lagoon crisis. More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING – THROUGH NOVEMBER 27

CC Ad for season 4.125x 5.5
The Vero Beach Theatre Guild is offering a wonderful escape from current political craziness and their timing couldn’t be better. Evita, winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, closes Sunday, November 27. Featuring one of Broadway’s greatest musical scores by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Evita is based on the life of Argentina’s iconic First Lady, Eva Peron.
Evita opens Thursday, November 10, and runs through Sunday, November 27, with six matinees and eight evening performances. Tickets are $28 and $30, students under 18 half price, and can be purchased by calling 562-8300 or online atverobeachtheatreguild.com. The Vero Beach Theatre Guild is located at 2020 San Juan Avenue, directly west of the county administration buildings. The Theatre Guild is the longest running community theatre on the Treasure Coast, now in its 59thseason. More…

Moss elected mayor, Howle vice mayor 5

MARK SCHUMANN

Laura Moss

Laura Moss

Harry Howle

Harry Howle

At an organization meeting of the Vero Beach City Council today newly elected members Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Tony Young were sworn into office by City Clerk Tammy Bursick. The new Council then elected Moss mayor, and Howle vice mayor.  Though Moss is new to the Council, and Howle has already served a year, Howle nominated Moss for the position of mayor.

The Council will hold its first regular meeting tomorrow at 9:30. Moss has placed on the agenda a discussion of a partial sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers to FPL. Moss and Sykes were both heavily supported by Shores residents and by FPL. Moss received 70% of her campaign contributions from Shores residents. Sykes took in 90% of his campaign cash from residents in the neighboring community. Both Moss and Sykes were also supported by a political action committee that raised $55,000 from FPL, and another $60,000 from Shores residents.

Moss and Sykes, along with Howle, have pledged to sell Vero Electric’s 3500 Shores customers for $30 million. A team of five independent utility experts concluded it will take, not $30 million, but $47 million to keep the move from leading to higher electric rates and higher taxes. Outgoing vice mayor, Randy Old, who lost to Sykes by 48 votes, has said he believes it would be a breach of a council members fiduciary responsibility to agree to a partial sale at $30 million.

County customers of Vero Electric could be hurt the most by a partial sale 2

COMMENTARY

“More ominous, still, is the likelihood areas such as Grand Harbor and the south barrier island will soon begin clamoring for a second and a third partial sale. As Vero Electric is further downsized, the utility will become less and less efficient, leaving the remaining customers paying higher and higher rates.”

“Vero Beach residents concerned about the prospect of higher taxes and higher electric rates, along with county residents on Vero Electric, should begin now to form a coalition that can petition to PSC to fully consider the likely impacts of this proposed partial sale. If not, this sell-off for the benefit of the Shores will become just another example of how the wealthy are able to buy elections to further enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.”

MARK SCHUMANN

To listen to Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, one might get the impression "high" electric rates have left Shores residents eating cat food for dinner. The reality is that rates are not "unreasonable" or "outrageous;" and the people of the Shores, among the wealthiest in the nation, are no where near having to move themselves, along with their possessions, out onto the streets. Plain and simple, they have managed to use their wealth to buy control of the Vero Beach City Council, and now they are seeking to shaft everyone else in the community simply to benefit themselvess

To listen to Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, one might get the impression “high” electric rates have left Shores residents eating cat food for dinner. The reality is that Vero Electric’s rates are not “unreasonable” or “outrageous;” and the people of the Shores, among the wealthiest in the nation, are nowhere near having to move themselves, along with their possessions, out onto the streets. Plain and simple, aided by FPL, Shores residents have managed to use their considerable wealth to buy control of the Vero Beach City Council. Now they are seeking to shaft everyone else in the community simply to benefit themselves.

Annoyed that the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light has been stalled, if not blocked by contract issues, local proponents of the deal, FPL officials, and Indian River Shores leaders, along with two newly elected FPL-Shores sponsored Vero Beach City Council members, are itching to release at least some of their pent-up frustration.

They seem convinced that selling Vero Beach’s 3500 Indian River Shores customers, a so called-partial sale, will have benefits beyond bringing barrie island residents in the Shore the electric rate relief they need to avoid slipping into the ranks of the homeless. To be sure, the partial sale will give FPL President and C.E.O., Eric Silagy, the small victory he needs to avoid accusations he misled a group of investors several years ago, when he claimed the company was on the verge of expanding its customers base by acquiring municipal utilities, starting with Vero Electric.

Unfortunately for the residents and taxpayers of Vero Beach and the remaining customers of Vero Electric, the deal could be bad for everyone but Shores residents and Silagy. In fact, if the new Shores-FPL sponsored City Council majority of Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes agrees to a partial sale at too low a price, and/or if the proceeds are misused in any number of ways that were promised during the campaign, City taxes and electric rates are sure to rise. More…

Historic Dodgertown welcomes the North Greenville University football team Reply

Team will be in Vero Beach in advance of its NCAA Division II playoff game

NEWS RELEASE

Historic Dodgertown is proud to welcome the North Greenville University Crusaders, as the football team prepares for its NCAA Division II playoff game on Saturday.

Historic Dodgertown, best known as the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948-2008, is no stranger to football.

Since the 1970s, the National Football League, the Canadian Football League and collegiate football programs have utilized Historic Dodgertown’s outdoor and indoor training facilities, meeting space and dining room to prepare for the regular season or playoff games. More…

McKee Botanical Garden joins global #givingtuesday movement Reply

NEWS RELEASE

McKee Botanical Garden has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. #GivingTuesday will be held on November 29, and is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support. More…

Heads may roll 2

NEWS ANALYSIS

MARK SCHUMANN

Vero Beach special utility counsel Schef Wright

Vero Beach special utility counsel Schef Wright

After re-negotiating Vero Beach’s wholesale power agreement with the Orlando Utilities Commission to save the City’s customers some $170 million, and successfully representing the City against legal challenges by the Indian River County Commission and the Town of Indian River Shores, Tallahassee attorney Schef Wright may soon be handed a pink slip by the new Howle-Moss-Sykes majority on the City Council.

Councilman Howle place the subject on the agenda for next Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Wright also coordinated the work of a team of five utility experts who calculated a $47 million break-even price for a partial sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers. Wright and the team were tasked with determining how much the City would need from the partial sale to prevent the move from leading to higher electric rates and higher taxes. Florida Power and Light has offered $30 million, with $3 million of that to be raised from Shores customers.

Along with Councilman Harry Howle, newly elected Council members Laura Moss and Lange Sykes have pledged to support a partial sale at $30 million. The Moss and Sykes campaigns were both heavily supported by Indian River Shores residents, and both were aided by a political action committee funded entirely by FPL and Shores residents. Moss received 70% of her campaign contributions from Shores residents, while Sykes took in more than 90% of his campaign funds from wealthy residents in the neighboring community. FPL gave $55,000 to the PAC, and that money was matched by another $60,000 from Shores residents. The PAC place advertising, mailed post cards and funded robo calls all in support of Moss and Sykes.

If Moss, Howle and Sykes dismiss Wrigth, they will be left needing to find another utility attorney to represent the City in its negotiations over the partial sale they now support. The only way to hire someone as familiar with the proposed sale as Wright would be to engage an attorney already involved on the Shores’ side of the deal. Given that Howle, Moss, and Sykes have a legal obligation to represent the best interests of the people of Vero Beach, hiring an attorney with an obvious conflict of interest could prove problematic.

Outgoing Councilman Randy Old, who lost to Sykes by 48 votes, has said he believes accepting $30 million for Vero Electric’s Shores customers would have been a breach of his fiduciary responsibility to the people of Vero Beach. If Old is correct in this assessment, Howle, Moss and Sykes may be opening themselves and the City to a legal challenge from residents and customers who do not want to be disadvantaged for the sake of Shores residents.

Howle, Moss and Sykes say they also support selling the remainder of the City’s electric utility to FPL, if and when a way can be found to resolve contract issues with the Florida Municipal Power Agency and its bondholders. Those in favor of a partial sale for the Shores have yet to make clear how the move would not render the remainder of the system less valuable, a development which would weaken the City’s chances of eventually receiving a sale price that would not require higher taxes and, worse, a surcharge on the customers to be transferred to FPL.

South Florida Winter League held at Historic Dodgertown Reply

Up to 15 players expected to be drafted from the SFWL, held at Historic Dodgertown

NEWS RELEASE

More than 65 players from across the United States and the Dominican Republic traveled to Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach to participate in the South Florida Winter League with the hope of being drafted to play in the Independent League. Scouts and personnel from various teams, including Major League Baseball, have been watching the players practice and play each day.

Tomorrow is the much anticipated Draft Day. More…

Dogs For Life celebrates the graduation of three veteran service dogs Reply

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SHELLY FERGER

 Oh how proud Dogs For Life is to have celebrated the commencement of another group of veteran service dog teams!

Last Saturday the Dogs For Life staff and the graduates, along with friends and family gathered for the graduation ceremony for Bill (US Navy) with service his dog Freyja, Bob (US Navy, Ret.) with his service dog Bodacious and Harmony (US Army) with her service dog Gunny. 

After committing to a full year of obedience, public access and task training, exceptional results were achieved. DFL can’t express how proud we are to have trained and certified these three fine veterans and their service dogs. Now they are able to go out in public feeling safe and secure with their canine companions at their sides. 

We were so pleased when Devon Williams and Tina Casro with Quilts of Valor offered, for the third year, to make quilts for the graduating veterans and their service dogs! These quilts are lovingly made and more lovingly presented, without a dry eye in the house! 

Dogs For Life welcomes the public for tours of the Training Center and learn about our programs. Please call (772) 567-8969 to arrange an appointment. You can also visit our website – www.dogsforlifevb.org and see our activities on Facebook for additional information.

 

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING – ON STAGE

weekend-web_cultural-connection-rob-kenna-kaitlin-ruby-derrick-paulThe Vero Beach Theatre Guild, 2020 San Juan Avenue, presents Evita, winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, opening on Thursday, November 10 with performances through Sunday, November 27.   Evita is based on the life of Argentina’s iconic First Lady, Eva Peron.  For tickets, ($28/$30, students under 18 half price) call 562-8300 or visit verobeachtheatreguild.com. More…

Target of attack from Commissioner Solari responds 5

Editor’s note: Barry Shapiro, the author of the following letter to the editor, is a local artist. Conicidentally, Shaprio will be giving a talk this evening from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Center for Spiritual Care on creativity, what it is and what keeps people from experiencing it. Anyone interested in attending Shapiro’s talk this evening can call 772-567-1233 or email centerforspiritualcare@gmail.com. The Center for Spiritual Care is located at 1550 24th Street, near 16th Avenue near the Downtown Art District.

See also: Solari Unhinged

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

So the County Commission finally got to the “Spoonbill Conspiracy” issue this afternoon. What we got was a long, uninterrupted rant from Commission Chair Bob Solari that was for the most part a personal attack against me, Mark Schumann, Vero Beach 32963 and Jay Kramer. First, I have to say thank you to Mr. Solari for taking me from obscurity to local stardom, even if it is as a pariah.

Mr. Solari reviewed some of the history of Spoonbill and made it clear that in his opinion it is a miracle of modern engineering, not perfect but close. He gushed about how it is saving the lagoon. He praised the people who maintain it and the County for building it. Then he got to the meat of his rant which was to disclose how the reports about Spoonbill released to the media and the government were merely political attacks in support of Jay Kramer’s candidacy. More…

Solari unhinged 2

COMMENTARY

“It seems that in Solari Indian River County has its own Huey Long – a demagogue and a thug.”

Solari – “‘Its Greek to me. Now, for Mark Schumann and his coterie of useful idiots (and let me give a special shout-out to Bea Gardner), ‘It’s Greek to me’ ‘is an idiom in English, expressing that something is not understandable.’ (Wikipedia)”

Related story: Is County’s Spoonbill Marsh better than City’s deep injection well?
Bob Solari

Bob Solari

Huey P. Long

Huey P. Long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARK SCHUMANN

With his recent re-election to the County Commission, Bob Solari seems to think he has license to use his elected office to berate and belittle anyone who would dare to challenge or disagree with him. That Solari, often pompous and arrogant, would take up Commission time to dive into petty attacks, or take advantage of  his position at the Commission dais to pontificate on esoteric subjects such as Greek philosophy, is nothing new. Today, though, the Commission’s bully sank to a new low.

Last August, InsideVero reported on a complaint filed with the Environmental Protection Agency by an Indian River County resident, Barry Shapiro, raising questions about the County’s Spoonbill Marsh project.  (See story) We also reported that the EPA wrote Shaprio informing him the agency was opening an investigation as a result of his complaint. Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari seems not to have appreciate our reporting or Mr. Shaprio’s exercise of his right to question the County’s claims that the project is in full compliance with all environmental regulations. Solari also took on the island weekly, Vero Beach 32963, and any and all who have dared to question the efficacy of the Spoonbill Marsh project.

During today’s County Commission meeting, Solari demonstrated just how easy it is to get under his thin skin, as he launched into an unhinged attack on anyone and everyone who would dare question him or the County Commission.

Below is the full text of Solari’s bitter verbal attack. It seems that in Solari Indian River County has its own Huey Long – a demagogue and a thug. More…

Worth Quoting 2

Mark Mucher

Mark Mucher

“I hope everyone can understand why I am confused.”

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Mark Mucher, a civic activist, and a frequent speaker during public comment time at City Council, Utilities Commission and Finance Commission meetings, came forward today to challenge information presented by Finance Commission chairman Peter Gorry. Gorry recently made a presentation to the Utilities Commission on how rates are established for investor-owned utilities. His report included a statewide electric rate comparisons for all utilities. As Gorry gave the Finance Commission a summery of his report, Mucher, apparently, did not like what he heard.

Referring to information Gorry gathered rate hike requests the state’s for-profit utilities have filed with the Florida Public Service Commission, Mucher said, “You have these top secret October reports. How can we just take your word for it?” More…

Will elected officials be sued? 1

COMMENTARY

BEA GARDNER

Bea Gardner

Bea Gardner

I have to ask you folks in Vero Beach this question. Are the citizens taking to the streets protesting that the newly elected Council members are NOT their representatives? Being that I live in Ohio and all I am seeing on the TV is protesters all over the country saying that Donald Trump is not their President, I ask this question about Vero Beach?

All I can say is elections have consequences and sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad. The country is a divided Nation, and that is a fact. As we can see by the looks of the electoral map, Donald Trump had the support of most of the area on the map and Hillary Clinton had the support of the more progressive and liberal heavily populated areas of the country like California and New York. And, we all know who won. Continue reading…