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…

Riverside Theatre announces KIDSPOT Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Riverside Theatre announces KIDSPOT, a special area designated for kids 12 and under, at select performances at the Theatre’s outdoor Loop.  KIDSPOT access is complimentary to children with tickets to a performance of Willy Wonka or iRascals.

Designed to enhance a child’s enjoyment at the theatre, KIDSPOT will engage children with activities, arts and crafts, games with prizes, character meet and greets, and complimentary refreshments.

KIDSPOT will be open one hour prior to evening performances and one hour after matinee performances. For evening shows, children will receive a dinner item and beverage prior to the show.  For matinees, they will receive a complimentary snack and beverage after the show.  Allergy sensitive options are available upon request.  Parents and older kids can purchase food, snacks, and drinks separately.

Willy Wonka and iRascals show dates and times are listed below. KIDSPOT performances are designated with a (KS).

The Shows

Willy Wonka JR. and Willy Wonka KIDS

The delicious adventures experienced by Charlie Bucket on his visit to Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory light up the stage in this captivating adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale. Featuring the enchanting songs from the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka JR. and Willy Wonka KIDS follow the enigmatic candy manufacturer as he stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. The children must learn to follow Mr. Wonka’s rules in the factory – or suffer the consequences.

The hour-long version of Willy Wonka JR. starring children aged 12 to 18 takes place:

June 16 @ 1:30pm & 7:30pm (KS);                                       June 17 @ 1:30pm (KS) & 5:30pm (KS)

A shorter version, Willy Wonka KIDS, starring children aged 7 to 12 takes place:

June 23 @ 1:30pm & 7:30pm (KS)                                         June 24 @ 1:30pm (KS) & 5:30pm (KS)

 iRascals JR. and iRascals KIDS More…

Come to the 28th annual Vero Kiwanis “Take A Kid Fishing” Tournament Reply

The Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast will hold its 28th annual “Take A Kid Fishing” Tournament on Saturday, June 3, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. until noon (registration starts 8:15 a.m.) at the fishing catwalk under Barber Bridge in Vero Beach. This free event is open to the first 250 kids ages 5-12 and their parent/guardian who attend (adult supervision required). A free cookout lunch will be served beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Kiwanis provides rods and reels to those who need them, as well as bait and fishing guidance. Kids can bring their own equipment if they wish. Prizes will be awarded for each age bracket and a special prize for the ugliest fish. The tournament is catch-and-release, which will be greatly appreciated by the audience of pelicans and other birds!

Flyers announcing the event have been distributed to all Indian River County elementary schools. Again, registration begins at 8:15 a.m. so arrive early to avoid the wait.

For more information, go to www.verokiwanis.com (under EVENTS) or call Jim Wolfe at (772) 299-0570.

This event is made possible through the support of Kiwanis members and sponsorships.  Each year Kiwanis members devote many hours to make this event successful.  Special thanks go Jim Wolfe who has chaired the event for many years.

Editorial: Don’t make FPL customers pay for fracking Reply

TIMES EDITORIAL

Editor’s note: This is the second editorial this week on FPL’s attempt to gain permission from the Florida State Legislature to charge ratepayers for out of state fracking. The effort is now opposed by Florida’s top two daily newspapers.

Florida Power & Light’s wholly owned subsidiary, the Florida Legislature, is moving toward allowing the state’s largest electric utility to charge customers for its natural gas fracking projects in other states. This is nothing but a massive handout to a powerful monopoly at the expense of consumers who should not have to pay for this. If fracking is that promising, the utility’s shareholders should shoulder the financial responsibility. continue reading

Bruhn: Local government authority is under attack 1

GARY BRUHN/ TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT

Every year, your local governments come under attack by the same people who tell the federal government to stay out of their business – our state legislators.

You see, local government’s self determination, or Home Rule, is guaranteed by our Constitution. Local government can do anything not denied to them by state law. And every year, your legislators come up with new ways to impose their will on your local way of life.

This year we have an unprecedented number of bills that will impact you. continue reading…

A major case of sticker shock Reply

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

I received this postcard in the mail yesterday and the first thing I noticed was the price on this small, basic home. At first I thought it was a joke, no way a house this size could sell for that price, even if it was on the waterfront. Then I thought it must be very special, like inside was John Dillinger’s vault, or the building was a storage shed at Mar-a-Lago.  But clearly, it was a realtor’s postcard (name blurred to protect the flood of fake inquiries sure to follow) and the address was in North Hollywood. I know real estate is much more expensive in South Florida, but this is ridiculous.

Wait a minute…there is no North Hollywood in Florida – but there is in California.

I flipped the postcard over and it was addressed to a person  in North Hollywood, California. So how did I get it? I have certainly received other people’s mail and then either walked it over to the appropriate neighbor or put it back in the mailbox. But to mis-deliver a postcard 3,000 miles away? It had to go through the hands of more than one person, more than one post office, and many screw-ups to arrive in Vero Beach.

More…

Finding Common Ground: An Interfaith Conversation at St. Edward’s Saturday April 22 Reply

MILT THOMAS

Although this is short notice, an important discussion will be held at St. Edward’s School this Saturday, April 22 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. in the Waxlax Center for the Performing Arts. The keynote speaker will be Dr. John L. Esposito, Georgetown University Professor of Religion and International Affairs.  Representatives from the local faith community will also contribute. The event is sponsored by the Breaking Barriers Club, a student-run club at the school.

Yesterday, at the Vero Beach City Council Vision Plan meeting, it took students from Vero Beach High School and the Indian River County Charter High School at bring the health of our Indian River Lagoon into focus as the most important issue facing our community’s future. The upcoming Finding Common Ground discussion is also an example of our students leading the way for us to focus on an issue of prime importance to our community and our country.

See the details below:

What is your vision for the future of Vero Beach? Reply

If it matters to you whether the now-decommissioned power plant site and other public lands are preserved for public use and are not sold for high-rise developments, consider attending Monday’s Visioning workshop. The meeting is to begin at 11:00 in City Hall.

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

If you care about the future of the city we all call home, then you should consider attending tomorrow’s Vision Meeting at Vero Beach City Hall, 11:00 a.m. This is the second Visioning meeting held by the current Council, but unlike last month’s meeting, it will address specific issues. At least according to the published agenda, tomorrow’s meeting will not be a free-for-all public input session.

Here are the specific issues to be discussed:

Commercial Districts

There are five districts scheduled for discussion and the issues related to each:

  1. Historic Downtown

Although some would consider the beachside commercial area as “downtown,” the true downtown is between U.S. 1 and the western edge of the Twin Pairs at 20th Avenue. It includes City Hall, the main post office, Pocahontas Park, Vero Theater Plaza, Art district, Crestlawn Cemetery, County Administration complex, County Courthouse, Vero Beach Municipal Airport – in other words every government and historic property within Vero Beach’s city limits. Back in 1975 the state created a plan to facilitate the flow of traffic through downtown because I-95 ended at the SR 60 exit. That plan was implemented in 1991 and created the Twin Pairs. It is essentially a bypass through the heart of our Historic Downtown. Creating a more pedestrian-friendly downtown is one of the issues to be discussed.

  1. Royal Palm Pointe

The City created a destination out of what was formerly the western end of the original Barber Bridge. City taxpayers authorized $6 million of improvements to create parking and a public park that would attract visitors who would then shop at the businesses on what became Royal Palm Pointe. Today many of those businesses have been replaced by private, upscale condos and the concern is whether the vision of previous City Councils will fall victim to big money interests. More…

Catch the Fever at Riverside Reply

REVIEW

Tony Jacob Tischler) and Stephanie Alexandra Matteo) compete for first place in the 2001 Odyssey dance contest from Saturday Night Fever.

MILT THOMAS

The so-called Disco Era of the 1970s hardly qualifies as an era having only lasted about five years, but the soundtrack of those years – Saturday Night Fever – is timeless. You probably have one of the 40 million copies of that vinyl album somewhere in your storage unit. I don’t want to know if you still have the bell-bottoms and platform shoes, but if you do, you will want to drag them out because Riverside Theatre has a torrid case of Saturday Night Fever and you’ll want to catch it. On second thought, put those bell-bottoms back into storage. But don’t miss the show at Riverside!

Based on a 1975 New York Magazine article, “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,”  the 1977 movie was a major hit and the 1999 musical theater adaptation of Saturday Night Fever ran on Broadway for 500 performances  long after the disco fad had faded. However, then as now, the music and story are timeless.

The main character, Tony Manero, was played in the film by John Travolta and handled superbly onstage by Jacob Tischler in this Riverside production. Tony works in a hardware store and lives for the weekends when he can strut his stuff on the 2001 Odyssey Disco dance floor. He gets no emotional support or encouragement from his parents, who idolize his priest brother.  His loser friends idolize him, including a wannabe girlfriend and dance partner, Annette (Nicole Colón). When Tony sets his sights on first place in a dance contest, a $1,000 grand prize and maybe a life, he spurns Annette in favor of a new girl, the relatively classier Stephanie Mangano (Alexandra Matteo).

More…

Vacation rental bill advances over Miami-Dade, beach cities’ objections 2

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

Editor’s note: Just when we thought our quiet residential neighborhoods were protected with strong local ordinances regulating short term rentals, the State Legislature is fast tracking House and Senate bills that would abolish local control over the issue.

VBHS Golden Grads picnic this weekend Reply

MILT THOMAS

500 VBHS Golden Grads at Fairgrounds.

Class reunions are not unusual, but local high school grads take it a step — and a few generations — further. On Saturday, April 8, anyone who attending or graduated from Vero Beach at least 50 years ago is invited to the VBHS Golden Grads celebration picnic at the Indian River County Fairgrounds Ag/Demo Building(7955  58th Avenue). That means the “youngest” attendees are from the Class of 1967.

Chairman for this year’s picnic is Alan Kauffmann (Class of 65). According to Alan, “This is our third straight picnic and each one has drawn 500-700 attendees, including spouses. Many of those spouses are also graduates. In one case, Class of 60 grads Walter and Berdyne Fulford Williams married after graduating and are still married 56 years later.”

As in the past, name tags will be issued at the check-in stations and tables will be set up with signs indicating class years in case you haven’t seen some of your classmates and they may have…uh…changed a bit since high school.

Some classes are organizing separate get-togethers on Friday, April 7. The picnic hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A barbecue buffet lunch will be served from 11:30-2:00 provided by 14 Bones Restaurant. Cost to attend is $20 and you can pay at the door.

For more information, contact Milt Thomas at (772)696-5710 or mjt686@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private Lives are there for all to see at Riverside Reply

REVIEWprivate-lives

MILT THOMAS

Watching a Noel Coward play is like a journey back in time, especially when you consider Private Lives, which has been performed more times over more years than just about any other theatrical production outside of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. The premise has you struggling to suspend disbelief if you are under the age of, say, 100. Yet, it still provokes laughter and is certainly worth the price of admission.

The first couple we see out on the veranda of their honeymoon suite is Elyot (Jason Loughlin) and Sibyl (Liana Hunt) Chase. She is 23, a bit younger than the worldly and sophisticated Elyot whose sloughing off of Sibyl’s affection spells trouble on the horizon. Does he not love her? Is he gay? (Several stifled laughs from the audience occur when the term “gay” is used in its original meaning, not in the way we know it commonly today). Sibyl makes frequent reference to Elyot’s first marriage, apparently a disaster, and a sore point for Elyot.

More…

What exactly is the role of City government? 4

COMMENTARY
city-council-2-7

Vice Mayor Harry Howle, Mayor Laura Moss, Councilman Richard Winger

MILT THOMAS

Despite a community-wide call to action, the City Council this week rejected a proposal for establishing a storm water utility. Though some claimed otherwise, the move would not have have led to the hiring of more public employees, or the formation of a new “layer of bureaucracy.”  The proposal would simply have created a dedicated source of funding to pay for expanding, improving and maintaining the City’s stormwater system. Given that the Council, by a vote of 3-2, rejected the stormwater utility primarily on philosophical grounds, (limited government, low taxes), one must question the role and responsibility of local government.

The marathon debate that began mid morning and lasted until 3:30 in the afternoon, featured experts on water quality, conservationists, environmentalists and citizens all making impassioned pleas to pass the storm water utility. These speakers represent easily a majority of Vero Beach citizens concerned about the deteriorating condition of the Indian River Lagoon. They contend Vero Beach can and must to more to help address the crisis.

Speaking against the idea were limited government advocates and tax protestors. Mrs. Jackie Solari read a letter from her husband, County Commissioner and leading limited government advocate, Bob Solari, in which he demonized “another layer of government bureaucracy.” That was also his rallying cry when the County Commission refused to join the Indian River Lagoon Council, a consortium of all counties bordering the Indian River Lagoon created to coordinate efforts aimed at saving it. The net result of that decision motivated the three major Indian River County municipalities to join the consortium anyway. Last November’s election ultimately provided the one vote necessary for County Commissioners to “rethink” their decision and agree to join the effort.

More…

City Council votes against continuing stormwater utility study 5

MILT THOMAS

In a marathon City Council meeting today, Mayor Laura Moss, Vice Mayor Harry Howle and Lange Sykes voted down proceeding with the Stormwater utility proposal. Richard Winger and Tony Young supported moving forward with the proposal. After presentations by lagoon science experts, environmental activists, homeowners and limited government advocates, newly elected Moss and Sykes, joined Howle in postponing any decision on how to fund a stormwater utility or even whether to have one at all.

Public Resources Management Group (PRMG) first presented their electric system rate study update and cost of service analysis in anticipation of proceeding with the structuring of a stormwater utility, but concerns about the cost ($108,000 spent already and another $40,000 anticipated expenses) became the primary concern for majority Council members. More…

An Empty Plate in the Cafe du Grand Boeuf at Riverside Theatre is a tasty treat Reply

REVIEW

MILT THOMAS31991062250_7c3aef058f_z

I love to cook and among my favorite dishes is a Moroccan Tagine, a kind of stew that includes something for every one of my taste buds – savory (umami), sweet, sour, salty and bitter.  The Riverside Theatre play, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf is such a dish, and like any well-prepared meal, it leaves you comfortably satisfied.

Yes, it is a play about food – or more specifically, it’s absence. Let me explain. It takes place at the Paris restaurant, Café du Grand Boeuf (Restaurant of the Big Ox) in 1961. The staff provides comic relief as they prepare for the restaurant’s owner and only customer to arrive. The headwaiter, Claude (Brian Myers Cooper), is a candidate for Ritalin if there ever was one as he flits around the stage in near panic mode trying to shake his staff into a modicum of professionalism. His reclamation project is Antoine (Daniel Burns), a recently hired, stuttering dishwasher, who Claude  wants to transform into a waiter before the owner arrives. Mimi (Maria Couch), is the restaurant’s hostess and Claude’s unhappy wife, who dreams of living the life of Jackie Kennedy as she complains about Claude’s anniversary present, a tube of lipstick.

More…

Murder, mayhem and great music in Riverside Theatre’s Chicago Reply

REVIEW

MILT THOMAS

chicago-riverside-7There are those people who love musicals and those who despise them. People love musicals because they use song and dance to advance a story; people who don’t like musicals consider breaking out in song and dance an impediment to a story.

So listen up if you are in the former group – Chicago, currently playing to packed houses at Riverside Theatre is a must-see event! If you see any musical, even if you have seen every version of this one, you know why Chicago is probably the most successful show in modern musical history. Well, not probably. Chicago IS the longest running American musical in Broadway history (20 years and still running), winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy. It spawned a movie version that won six Academy Awards in 2003 including Best Picture (first musical to win in 35 years), and another movie, All That Jazz, about original Chicago choreographer Bob Fosse, that won the Palme d’Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

As far as the latter group is concerned, those who might otherwise shun musicals, it’s safe to say that all this success had to pull in plenty of people like you, so why not give it a shot? Truly, you need to see this production! More…

Ring of Fire glows in the Riverside Reply

REVIEWring-of-fire2

MILT THOMAS

Johnny Cash is an American original and a household name to anyone over the age of 30. His music is household famous as well – “I Walk the Line,” “Daddy Sang Bass,”   “A Boy Named Sue,” and “Folsom Prison Blues” among many others. He wrote and/or recorded over 300 songs and sold over 90 million records. If you like Johnny Cash music, the best way to enjoy a retrospective of his career is to go see Ring of Fire currently at the Riverside Theatre.

This is my kind of musical. It is all music (32 songs) with short vignettes of dialogue about his life. We all know that Cash was a very complex man, an enigma, but that side of him is not the point of this show – it’s all about the music and the atmosphere of old-fashioned country culture around which that music was created.

The central characters – two male and two female – at times resemble Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in their youth and then more mature. But often they all appear together on stage. The “young Johnny,” played by Benjamin D. Hale, is in character throughout the performance, but the “older Johnny,” (played by Jason Edwards, who also directed the presentation) is more of a composite, as are the female leads, Trenna Barnes and Allison Briner-Dardenne. All are excellent however as singers and performers as they take you through Cash’s early life during the Great Depression, then his musical career from start to stardom.

The real “hook” to this show though is the fact that all musicians perform on stage – and not just as musicians. Brantley Kearns, the fiddle player, also portrays the “grandpa” character and sings; Jeff Lisenby (music director), plays keyboard at the back of the band, but more upfront on the accordion; John Marshall plays “slapping bass” and acts in many scenes (he also did a virtuoso solo right after intermission that had the audience in awe). Sam Sherwood played guitar, mandolin and harmonica, all staples of Appalachian music; and Brent Moyer played guitar and did trumpet solo on the theme song, “Ring of Fire.”

Along with the usual expert craftsmanship we come to expect from Riverside sets, costumes, choreography, staging, lighting and sound, this musical will keep your toes tapping and hands clapping, put a smile on your face and joy in your heart. Thanks, Johnny!

Ring of Fire plays through November 13 with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 2:00 p.m. matinees on Wednesday and select Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call 772-231-6990 for more information or visit the Theatre’s website at www.riversidetheatre.com.

 

 

Yes, we care about the future of Vero Beach 1

COMMENTARY

“Now we citizens of Vero Beach face our greatest challenge – preventing a takeover of our City Council by puppet candidates of Indian River Shores and FPL.”

MILT THOMAS

Milt Thomas

Milt Thomas

I first moved here 60 years ago and I am very concerned that Vero Beach election cycles since 2009 have been about outside interests trying to manipulate Vero Beach voters into voting for their puppet candidates so they can advance their own interests. Those interests are clearly not in Vero’s best interests.

This year’s City Council election represents the most serious challenge to Vero’s future of any election in our city’s history. You are being asked to vote for three candidates whose sole purpose is to approve a deal on behalf of Indian River Shores that would sell that town’s Vero Electric customer base to FPL for $30 million, $17 million less than what our city needs to fulfill its financial obligations. That would be an unprecedented dereliction of duty by city leaders who have a legal obligation to protect their constituents. Although $30 million is a lot of money, it does not cover the financial liabilities faced by city taxpayers and Vero Electric ratepayers.  But that is not the whole story. More…

Is our way of life up for a vote November 8? 3

COMMENTARY picture2

MILT THOMAS

Whether you moved here last year, ten years ago, or even 50 years ago, if someone asked you what you thought about our community when you arrived, chances are you said, “I want Vero to stay just like it is.”

We hear that all the time. The irony is that Vero Beach and Indian River County have changed in many ways, yet those changes are transparent to newcomers. Why? Because what has never changed are our core values. Nor should they change.

Population of the greater Vero Beach area is now the same as Ft. Lauderdale was 50 years ago, yet we have retained the small town quality of life that communities to the south have lost. That is because civic leaders over the years have had a common shared vision that guided them in their decision making. That common vision included maintaining our small town atmosphere, excellent quality of life, countless amenities — and a city government leadership committed to keeping Vero “just like it is.” More…

A simple guide to understanding the lingering electric issue 2

With decommission of the power plant, options for improving the look of Vero Beach's riverfront are wide open. For the foreseeable future, though, Vero Beach will continue to own its electric utility.  The following article by Milt Thomas explores why the proposed sale to Florida Power & Light has not gone forward.

With decommissioning of the power plant, options for improving the look of Vero Beach’s riverfront are wide open. For the foreseeable future, though, Vero Beach will continue to own its electric utility. The following article by Milt Thomas explores why the proposed sale to Florida Power & Light has not gone forward.

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

There are many aspects of this issue that are important to the City of Vero Beach’s future, but to customers of Vero Electric, the only issue is what they pay each month for electricity. While the City continues to reduce electric rates, (down 8 percent since 2013, and 26 percent since 2009), people are still asking, “What happened to the sale of Vero Electric we were promised?” The following article is written to answer the question as simply and directly as possible without all the nuances and political intrigue.

Indian River County is currently served by two electric providers, Florida Power & Light (a publicly traded major corporation) and Vero Electric (a local, city-owned utility). Due to its size and financial resources, FPL offers electric rates that in recent years have been consistently lower than Vero Electric (or most other municipally-owned electric providers) rates. A fair analogy would be a major chain like Walmart offering lower prices than local merchants for the same products.

Many of Vero Electric’s customers live outside Vero Beach city limits, an arrangement agreed to many years ago when Vero Electric was the primary source for electricity in Indian River County. That agreement is due to expire next year. However, the state’s Public Service Commission has affirmed Vero Electric’s right and responsibility to continue serving its customers. The County Commission appealed the PSC’s ruling to the Florida Supreme Court, but lost.  

Back in 2009, When Vero Electric’s rate was $158.82 per 1000 kWh,  a local effort was undertaken to convince voters and ratepayers they should agree to sell Vero Electric to FPL. ‘Sell’ advocates Glenn Heran and Steve Feherty developed an analysis and presented it around town and in the media that showed the city would gain close to $180 million from the deal. This projected “profit” from the sale would, they said, more than make up for the revenue lost to the city by selling its biggest asset. More…

Media Watch: What constitutes a raise? No one at the Press Journal seems to know. 4

COMMENTARY

“Vero Beach’s ‘break-even’ number has been public for weeks, if not months. For Wixon and her editors to characterize the City Council’s action this week as “upping the price” is just more propaganda aimed at aiding FPL.”

MILT THOMAS

A front page story in this morning’s Press Journal carries the headline “Council raises electric offer.” According to reporter Colleen Wixon, “The City Council all but killed a potential $30 million deal with Florida Power & Light Co…..by upping the price by $17 million.”

As a reporter, Ms. Wixon could have easily found out the city’s position for some time now was that it needed at least $47 million for the Shores portion of Vero Electric in order to protect the remaining  customer base from continent liabilities related to that portion. As a community publication, the Press Journal and its editors should know that publishing a misleading story (on the front page) is not in the community’s best interests, especially with an election coming in 13 days.

The only possible excuse for the Press Journal getting this story so wrong is that its employees so seldom receive raises that they have forgotten the meaning of the word.The real reason for this morning’s misreporting is the Press Journal’s persistant bias in covering FPL’s efforts to acquire Vero Electric. We all know that the Press Journal has sided with FPL from the beginning (and we all know Treasure Coast Newspapers president is married to an FPL executive). More…

At what point is “political correctness” correct? 2

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

 

Last week we heard about a series of bombings in Thailand. It happened a few days after the ruling junta, which had overthrown the legitimate government, held a constitutional referendum that many feel was rigged.

So why should we care about this? Because a friend of mine immediately assumed the bombings were a Muslim terrorist attack and blamed “political correctness” as the reason media outlets did not call it that. I pointed out that branding every incident as Muslim-inspired terrorism unnecessarily stokes up the underlying fear Americans have dealt with since 9-11.

It also led me to question the entire concept of political correctness. It seems we can’t say “what is on our minds” anymore because it will offend someone. Really? Now, before you agree with that statement you might want to think about what it really means. If you are standing in a room full of people and you are about to say something on your mind that is not politically correct, do you glance around to see who might be offended? Chances are it is a woman, a minority, a homosexual, someone of a different religion, a person with disabilities, a liberal or a conservative. So maybe the problem isn’t political correctness, but the problem is really “what is on our minds.”

More…

Compassion Vero to hold community forum Reply

cropped-CompassionVeroFINAL (1)Compassion Vero, a community-wide initiative of business, governmental, religious educational and non-profit leaders, invites the public to attend a gathering focused on how citizens can work together to improve every aspect of our shared living here in Vero Beach and Indian River County. The gathering will be held at 12:00 on Friday, August 12, at the Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave in Vero Beach. A light luncheon with refreshments will be served at no charge.

The program will share the group’s mission and invite people to participate in one of two groups. The Positive Action Group will gather ideas to increase Compassion Vero’s visibility in the general community. The Idea Tool Box Group will discuss plans we are working on and solicit fresh ideas that can be added to the group’s “tool box.”

Compassion Vero formed in 2014 after an incident in a public meeting where an elected official showed disrespect for a citizen. That prompted a meeting of business, religious and community leaders that ultimately led to formation of Compassion Vero, an organization with the motto, “Respect for the Common Good.” Compassion Vero co-chair, Suzy Feeney, explains, “Compassion lies at the heart of all social, religious, ethical and moral traditions, calling on us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.”

The organization’s goal is to elevate compassion to the center of our community life and show respect for the cultural and religious diversity of our great community. For more information about Compassion Vero, go to CompassionVero.org or check us out on FaceBook. To attend the August 12 event, please RSVP to CompassionVero@gmail.com or call 772-778-7880 so we can accommodate all for lunch. Thanks!

What do candidate direct mail ads tell us about the candidates? 2

COMMENTARY

Is this an ad for a religious revivalist or a candidate for public office?

Is this an ad for a religious revival or a candidate for public office?

MILT THOMAS

I have received, along with most Indian River County residents, mailers either defining or defiling candidates in the upcoming Republican primary. Taking the headline theme of each mailer, let’s see what they are saying to voters in order to convince us who we should vote for:

The State Senate candidates for newly created District 17 (Indian River County and Southern Brevard) are our own Debbie Mayfield and Brevard County residents Ritch Workman and Mike Thomas. Judging from mailers received, the race is between Mayfield and Workman.

Workman’s first mailer touted his credentials as a Christian (Defending our faith) and anti-Muslim. So much for non-Christian voters, especially Muslim-Americans. His second mailer details his stand against illegal immigrants. He has also sent out two mailers against “Dishonest Debbie.” Come on, Ritch; are you vying for the mini-Trump vote?

More…

What does our nation stand for on this Independence Day? 2

COMMENTARY

“Standing up for conservative values is not supposed to be a rejection of progressive values. Being Christian is not about rejecting those who are not. We are a nation of continuums, not of absolutes.”

MILT THOMAS

As we celebrate our independence as a free nation,  we should reflect on what is truly unique about us. Yes, there are many other democracies in this world, at least in name, but few countries go to the lengths we do to share our uniqueness.

So how are we unique? One way is the way in which we treat others. It is easy to criticize our foreign policy without acknowledging the core values underlying it. Chief among those values is compassion. As a nation we have always tried to help others. We like to think of ourselves as compassionate people, but there are times we must remind ourselves how important compassion is to our uniqueness.

America is a country of immigrants. Go anywhere in the US and you will find groups, cities and even regions that identify with their countries of origin. Chicago is the largest Polish city outside of Warsaw itself; Pennsylvania Dutch (“Deutsch”) country was settled by Germans; E. Nelson Fell founded Fellsmere, but also founded Narcoossee in the Orlando area – as a British colony. There are countless other examples, especially in major cities. What was New York without Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants? Los Angeles without Hispanics and Asians? Detroit without Muslims? Yes, Muslims. And of course those among us who were forced to come here as slaves. More…

Performance at Riverside will leave you Howling at the Moon Reply

REVIEWhowl

MILT THOMAS

You can’t complain that the only things to do in Vero Beach this summer are playing golf or playing in the water (that’s where I play golf, unfortunately). The Riverside Theatre is alive and well with a broad palette of activities all designed for fun. This past Saturday, for instance, they held their weekly get together on the patio with food, drink and live music that is known as “Live in the Loop.”  Then at 7:30, we attended a show in the Waxlax Second Stage auditorium called “Howl at the Moon.” No, it wasn’t about werewolves, coyotes or trying to achieve an impossible dream. It Is simply a terrific, enjoyable evening that just may cause you to howl in delight.

The Waxlax was transformed from a theater into a cocktail lounge with cocktail tables for two or a crowd of friends. Waitresses served from a menu of food and drink, while on stage, two electronic pianos awaited the performers. Then Ken Gustafson and Katie Pinder Brown emerged, sat at their respective pianos and began an evening of great music, all based strictly on requests from the audience with unscripted patter to keep the audience singing, laughing and dancing to a medley of hit songs for the ages. It sounds like it might have been Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour (for the few audience members who know that reference), but it was a polished performance by two excellent vocalists and talented musicians.

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Are short term rental operators paying their fair share of business taxes? Reply

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

Tuesday’s BCC meeting was, in Chairman Bob Solari’s words on a radio call-in show, a “knockdown,” with regard to approval of a short term rental ordinance covering unincorporated Indian River County. However, it may have been more of a sucker punch given his previous attitude toward regulating short term rental businesses in residential neighborhoods.

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Property owners win at County Commission 4

MILT THOMASbcc 6-21

I’m not one for sports metaphors, but Indian River County residential homeowners – represented by the South Beach Property Owners Association (SBPOA) and Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA) – are now the Cleveland Cavaliers of the short term rental championship. After being subverted by County Commission Chairman Bob Solari, derided and ignored by his Short Term Vacation Rental Advisory Committee and losing to the Planning & Zoning Commission, these outspoken and engaged citizen groups won a major victory at Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting. They unexpectedly reversed several key positions that had been recommended by the committee, P&Z and county staff.

  1. Licensing

The committee had recommended a three-year license, Chairman Glenn Powell’s majority (Glenn Heran and Joel Molinari, both limited regulation advocates, Angela Waldrop Realtor, Powell a short term rental operator) arguing that yearly renewal was too often. Staff and Planning & Zoning agreed. The SBPOA recommended one year licenses since that is what the State of Florida requires, adding that local regulations can be more stringent, but not less. The BCC decided to keep it at three years; however, if short term rental operators failed to renew the state license annually, the county license would be revoked. The fee for a county business short term rental operator license was set at $250.

  1. Noise

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Homeowners have one last chance to influence proposed short term rental regulations 3

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

At the next County Commission meeting (Tuesday, June 21), staff will present the final recommended proposed ordinance covering short term vacation rentals in Indian River County.

However the Commission votes – and voting will occur after final public input on the proposed ordinance – several important points should be noted:

  1. The issue of short term rentals in unincorporated Indian River County residential neighborhoods only arose when the County Commission dropped a previous ordinance requiring such lodging establishments be confined to commercially zoned areas. The City of Vero Beach does not allow short term rentals in residential neighborhoods.

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We should all be horrified 2

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

Enough is enough. When are we going to stop judging victims and start defusing the hatred being spread around by sick, anti-social gunman and not-so-presidential candidates. We don’t know yet this murderer’s true motivation, but whatever it is, it is wrong, and at some level, we have to all believe as freedom-loving Americans that it is wrong. Whatever your religious or political beliefs, there is no justification for taking 50 innocent lives. Not in America. Not anywhere. It is a perversion of the greatest magnitude in civilized society.

We can blame the proliferation of guns in America as a root cause of this slaughter, but that is no more a reason than to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few. What we don’t need is the blame game. This is a time to stand together as we did on 9-11.