County responds to Moss’ concerns about use of tourist tax receipts Reply

Related story: MPO gets scolded by its newest member, Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss


It has been a little more than two months since Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss threw a verbal Molotove Cocktail at the opening of a meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization.  Challenging the MPO’s priorities, Moss said, “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?”

Moss has since meet with County officials, who appear to be schooling the mayor in hopes of helping her understand what is possible, what is not, and why. After a recent meeting with Moss, County Administrator Jason Brown sent the mayor a follow-up letter in which he wrote, “We think it is counterproductive to take a parochial view of these revenues (tourist tax revenues) and expenses (Vero vs. Sebastian, Vero vs. unincorporated County).”

Attachments to Brown’s letter to Moss outline plans for a $4.8, beach restoration project along 3.1 miles of beach mostly within the City limits. Designated as “Sector 5,” the are extends from 2000 feet north of the Tracking Station Beach Park to the Gables Oceanfront Condominiums. The restoration project is to begin in late 2018.

Tourist taxes collected by businesses located within the City are remitted to the County, and are pooled with revenues from throughout the County. As Brown pointed out to Moss, even if Vero Beach were collecting its own tourist tax revenues, it would not be able to spend the money on beach restoration with out first holding a voter referendum.

Following in Brown’s letter to Moss, along with attachments. More…

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


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


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…

VNA welcomes new board member, Karen Schievelbein Reply

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Karen Schievelbein

The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) welcomes Karen Schievelbein to their board of directors. A VNA and Hospice Foundation board member and finance committee member, Schievelbein’s professional background includes business development, financial analysis, risk management and accounting. She has served as chief financial officer for Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California and United Behavioral Health before becoming the chief operating officer of Spectera UnitedHealthcare Dental from which she retired in 2007. 

”The role of the VNA and Hospice Foundation is to strategically build and strengthen relationships with people interested in supporting the local health care delivery system  and specifically the areas of home health care, hospice services and community wellness programs through the VNA,” said Anne Cooney, Chair of the Foundation’s Nominating Committee. “Karen’s unique health care experience and accounting expertise aligned well with our organization’s commitment to accountability, fiscal responsibility and transparency for our donors and partners.”  More…

Detectives seek help locating wanted teen in connection with guns for drugs operation Reply


During the months of March and April, Indian River County Sheriff’s Detectives Chris Lester and Ruben Bermudez were assigned to investigate a residential burglary where two firearms were stolen. As a result of that investigation, the detectives identified several auto burglaries that also included firearm thefts. They were able to determine that five local teens, with ages ranging from fifteen to nineteen, were responsible for the burglaries.

Shawn Newman (17), and Samuel Tecsi (17) both of Vero Beach, were arrested and charged with residential burglary, grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor, dealing in stolen property, and violation of probation. Newman was also charged with auto burglary and additional counts of theft and possession of a firearm. During their interview both admitted the burglaries and told detectives that their motive for stealing firearms was to trade them to Michael Smith (19) of Vero Beach, for drugs. The teens said that Smith provided them with marijuana and marijuana wax in exchange for stolen firearms.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for Smith’s apartment in the 6900 block of 26th Street. Smith was arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property, four counts of possession of a firearm by a delinquent, possession of an altered firearm, possession a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Also arrested during the search warrant was Smith’s mother, Kimberly Smith, on four counts of possession of a controlled substance. More…

Facebook comments on power sale reveal that some, perhaps many are misinformed, or uninformed 1


“If the general belief is that electric rates are going to come down 20% to 30%, and if the widespread assumption is that the sale will not results in tax increases, and/or cuts in municipal services, then pressing ahead with the sale amounts to malicious obedience.” 


This past weekend, I took exception to a commenter’s assertion that, despite the unprecedented level of outside money that poured into last fall’s municipal election, the results were a fine example of democracy in action. In truth, the election of Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes to the Vero Beach City Council is a sad example of how money can buy power, especially when the press fails to do its job.

Last fall, more than $100,000, half of it given by Florida Power and Light and half contributed by Indian River Shores residents, funded a political action committee supporting Moss and Sykes. The committee used the money to carry out an extensive disinformation campaign of truly outlandish claims and promises. Further, Sykes received 90 percent of his financial support from Shores residents. Moss took in 70 percent of her campaign contributions from outside Vero Beach. Without question, outside money bought their seats on the Council.

The commenter wrote, “Their paths to office are in accordance with their constitutional rights, and now the City’s decisions rest in their hands.”

In a response titled “A failure of the fourth estate,” I wrote: More…

Bruhn: Local government authority is under attack 1


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…

Pelican Island Audubon Society announces 2017 ‘Hero Awards’ Reply


Many folks have volunteered and contributed to the success of our chapter by developing courses, leading and organizing birding field trips, writing grants for funding, maintaining our the Audubon House, initiating special events, and yes contributing money to keep projects going. At our annual meeting on March 20, 2017, we recognized the outstanding contributions individuals have made not only to our chapter but to our community. These awards highlight our activities and inspire us all to work together to improve our quality of life and make Indian River County a sustainable, environmentally, and happy place to live. More…

Humane Society rescues 13 lucky dogs Reply


Late Saturday night, the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County (HSVB) took in 13 dogs rescued from several overburdened animal shelters in Puerto Rico. The island’s animal shelters are trying to help more than 300,000 street dogs known as “satos” whose typical fate is abandonment and starvation. Many dogs are left to die on Puerto Rico’s notorious “Dead Dog Beach.” Working late into the night, HSVB staff transported the dogs from Ft. Lauderdale Airport to HSVB, walked, watered and fed the dogs and let them settle in to their kennels to rest.

Robby, Bobby, Godiva, Chillah, Alaia, Luilli and Lobo are just a few of the rescued pups set to find refuge in loving homes across the Treasure Coast. “Our plan is to give these dogs a full medical evaluation right way. They’ve been through a lot so our behavior team will also help them adjust to their new lives and new families,” Director of Operations Maria Ramirez said. “Our goal is to help these dogs start happy new lives as soon as possible,” she added. According to Ramirez, the dogs will be placed for adoption as soon as they receive all necessary care. More…

Concerns over possible sale of old Dodgertown course raise larger questions about City’s future 2


“Reisman quoted former Vero Beach mayor Mary Beth McDonald as questioning if the City is really so desperate that it can longer afford to hold on to the Dodgertown property. The larger question everyone should be asking is whether, after the sale of Vero Electric and the forced takeover of its water and sewer utility, the City will be able to continue to exist as an incorporated municipality.”


Related Story: Should Vero Beach sell old Dodgertown course?

Press Journal opinion columnist Larry Reisman today addressed a proposal for the City of Vero Beach to sell for $2.7 million 35 acres of land it purchased in 2005 for $10 million.

At the time the City acquired the old Dodgertwon golf course, supporters of the purchase argued that the move would prevent further residential development in an already congested area, and would provide for more public open space. If the City Council accepts the offer it has received from a Palm Beach Gardens developer, it will be taking a net loss of $7.3 million. Further, the Council will be paving the way for 280 new homes to be built on what was once a nine-hole golf course open to the public.

Reisman argues that selling the property for just $2.7 million will “compound the problems associated with a bad investment made 12 years ago,” concluding, “Quality of life is our No. 1 asset.”

If Reisman truly believes quality of life is the community’s “No. 1 asset,” then his unquestioning and unqualified support for selling Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light is, to use his words, “a sick irony.” More…

UPDATE: Off duty Indian River County Sheriff’s Deputy killed in evening Gifford shooting Reply



Since last night, detectives have learned that Deputy Garry Chambliss was visiting family and friends in the 4400 block of 28th Avenue when gunfire erupted. Detectives are also aware that a number of people were gathered in the 4300 and 4400 blocks of 28th Avenue after a wake from earlier in the evening. Makhail Malik Chambliss (21) of Gifford, and an undisclosed passenger were traveling north on 28th Avenue when an object struck his black Chevrolet Camaro. It is believed that the object was thrown due to an ongoing dispute between Makhail Chambliss and several unidentified suspects. Forensic evidence shows that Makhail Chambliss then fired several rounds in the 4300 block of 28th Avenue. As he fled the scene heading north in his vehicle, an as-yet-unidentified suspect fired rounds at Makhail Chambliss’ vehicle. The bullet that struck and ultimately killed Deputy Chambliss originated from the second suspect, firing from more than 100 yards away. More…

Off Duty Indian River County Sheriff’s corrections deputy killed in evening Gifford shooting 1


At approximately 9:30 P.M., the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls of a shooting in the 4400 block of 28th Avenue. Responding deputies located Indian River County Sheriff’s Corrections Deputy Garry Chambliss with a gunshot wound. Deputy Chambliss was transported to the Indian River Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries. Information was received that suspects in the shooting were seen leaving the Gifford area in a black Chevrolet Camaro. Deputies located the suspect vehicle and conducted a traffic stop at Powerline Road and County Road 510. One suspect was taken into custody but deputies are currently searching for a second suspect who has not yet been named. Details of the shooting are still under investigation at this time. More will be released as it comes available.

Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar stated, “This is a tragic day for the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.  We are actively investigating this homicide as we face the difficult reality of losing one of our own to violence. We will find those responsible for this senseless loss of life and put them in prison where they belong. Please pray for the family of Deputy Garry Chambliss and everyone at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office during this difficult time.”

Indian River County Sheriff’s Detectives seek help in shooting investigation Reply


At approximately 9:30 P.M. last night, Indian River County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a call of a shooting in the 4400 block of 28th Avenue. When deputies arrived, they located siblings Norris Jones (32) and Lakeisha Jones (39) with gunshot wounds. Lakeisha had multiple gunshot wounds and was airlifted from Indian River Medical Center to Lawnwood where she is still being treated but is expected to survive. Norris Jones was treated at IRMC and released. More…

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


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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.


County to seek membership in Lagoon Council 2


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…

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 The Center for Spiritual Care is located at 1550 24th Street, near 16th Avenue near the Downtown Art District.

See also: Solari Unhinged


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


“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











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…

Shores-FPL PAC treasurer known by some as ‘the prince of dark money’ 1

Editor’s note: Eric Robinson, the subject of the following report by the Sarasota Herald Tribune, is the treasurer of a political action committee jointly funded by Florida Power and Light and several dozen Indian River Shores Residents. The PAC, calling itself “Flip the Switch,” is supporting three candidates for the Vero Beach City Council who have pledged to approve a sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers to FPL for $30 million.  A team of five utility experts advised the City it will take $47 million, not $30 million, to partition and downsize Vero Electric without the move leading to higher rates for the remaining customers.


Eric Robinson can’t stand being called “The Prince of Dark Money.”

He gained the reputation as one of the most connected campaign money men in the state, helping bring bare-knuckle campaign tactics long common at the federal level to local races. Robinson, sometimes reveling in the job and typically profiting mightily along the way, has helped pro-development interests gain or maintain influence, determine who sits in the Florida Legislature and on school, city and county boards and boost or kill local referendum proposals — all while concealing the source of many donations.

Despite his success — Robinson has set up more than 50 political committees that manage close to $6 million — he protests his sometimes sinister public image. He says he is not some Machiavellian operative who plots ways to destroy candidates deemed insufficiently conservative, or a lackey for local real estate developers or Florida’s governor.

“I’m just an accountant,” Robinson said repeatedly during a series of interviews with the Herald-Tribune. “I’m a good guy. I’m not some right-wing nut.”

Continue reading…

Editor’s note: Apparently working in a coordinated effort with the island weekly, civic activist, Charlie Wilson, last week filed an compliant with the Florida Elections Commission in what can only be seen as an effort to silence InsideVero. 

Reader Comment: Indian River County does not need ‘pot shops’ 2

The City of Vero Beach has recently lowered their electric utility rates, effective October 15, 2016. With FPL signaling a significant increase in their electric utility rates over the next three years, Indian River Shores Vero Beach electric utility users, of which I am one, should cease their efforts to get FPL electric. Frankly folks, it just isn’t going to happen – The Public Service Commission has exclusive and superior rights in territorial agreements, which cannot be easily modified or changed – The Supreme Court of Florida has already handed down a decision on this issue.

One more important thing!! Please vote note “no” on Amendment 2 which would legalize so- called, “medical marijuana.” I’ve read Amendment 2, and it will lead to “pot shops” in Indian River County should it pass. I KID YOU NOT! THERE ARE THOSE WHO LIVE HERE WHO ARE JUST WAITING FOR THIS AMENDMENT TO PASS, SO THEY CAN OPEN UP SHOP AND PROFIT BY IT! It is heart-breaking to witness this. –


Caroline Ginn

Editor’s note: Caroline Ginn is a former Vero Beach City Council member, and a former member of the Indian River County Commission.

Indian River Shores-FPL PAC raises $56,749 to support Moss, Sykes, Wells Reply

“At a community meeting held in the Shores last month, Town Mayor Brian Barefoot introduced Moss, Sykes and Wells as supporting the Shores in its stand-off with the City of Vero Beach.”








FPL LogoIn addition to the $20,000 Indian River Shores residents have given directly to Vero Beach City Council candidates Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Normal Wells, Shores residents, with assistance from Florida Power and Light, have raised an additional $56,749 to fund a political action committee named, “Clean Sweep For A Brighter Future.”







According to documents filed with the Florida Department of State, the chairman of the FPL-funded PAC is Dan Stump, of 615 Camelia Lane. Reports filed with the Department of State reveal that Stump has not contributed to the PAC he is heading, though the PAC has received 37 contributions from Shores residents totaling $36,749.  The largest individual contribution, $3,000, was made by Eric Billings of 800 Beach Road, Apt. 306.

FPL contributed $20,000 to the PAC supporting what Town Mayor Brian Barefoot described as “the Shores Team.”

At a community meeting held in the Shores last month, Town Mayor Brian Barefoot introduced Moss, Sykes and Wells as supporting the Shores in its stand-off with the City of Vero Beach. Barefoot encouraged Shores residents to support the three because, he said, they could be counted on to side with the Shores in its dispute with Vero Beach over Vero Electric’s service to Town residents. More…

Sen. Latvala says bill may put PSC over local utilities Reply

Editor’s note: Vero Beach leaders have offered to submit the City’s electric rates to review by the Florida Public Service Commission. Despite the fact that Vero Electric’s rates are well below rates already approved by the PSC for three of the state’s investor owned utilities, Indian River Shores leaders and their allies at the County insist the City’s rates are “unreasonable.”


State Sen. Jack Latvala, his chamber’s next budget chief, Friday said he might file legislation for next year to put municipal utilities under the supervision of the state’s Public Service Commission.

“I think you’re going to see a bill dealing with the municipalities that are currently not supervised by anybody above them, in terms of their (storm) preparedness, their rates,” he told reporters in Tallahassee.

The commission already oversees investor-owned utilities, including rate increase requests. Continue reading…

The great deception: Solari perpetuates ‘anti-sale,’ ‘pro-sale’ lie 1


“Unlike Moss, Sykes and Wells, who spend all their time trying to persuade voters they have magical power, Gorry, Old and Young have grounded their campaign messages in reality. Just as importantly, they seem focused on preserving and improving the community’s unique quality of life.”


Brian Barefoot

Brian Barefoot

Bob Solari

Bob Solari

Fact checkers are busy today assessing the “truthiness” of statements made during last night’s debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Locally, there is equaly as much work to be done holding accountable politicians like Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot and County Commissioner Bob Solari, who seek to influence the outcome of Vero Beach’s municipal election by creating an alternate reality.

In a guest column published in the Press Journal, Solari wrote, “For a better Vero, vote for pro-sale candidates.”  Amazingly, Solari has managed to imbed two lies in a single sentence. More…

Perhaps… 1


Editor’s note: Honey Minuse is Chair of the Indian River Neighborhood Association.


Note: As you read “Perhaps” please be reminded the only IRNA position on this Vero Beach Electric issue was support of placing the matter to a referendum. That was done and a contract for sale to FP&L was signed.

Honey Minuse

Honey Minuse

Two long-serving Council Members are leaving their seats, having chosen to no longer serve the people of Vero Beach. A sincere thank you is extended to both Pilar Turner and Jay Kramer for their unwavering dedication and for serving during a time of bitter divide. Well wishes are extended to them as they return to their personal lives with their families.

Perhaps their departure at this time is no coincidence. Perhaps reality set in when it was known the City’s contract for the sale of the Electric Utility to FP&L could not be executed.

Perhaps Mrs. Turner had nothing further she could do to complete the sale and perhaps Mayor Kramer exhausted his efforts trying to find a creative solution to advance a sale or a partial sale. And perhaps Contract Law and Florida Supreme Court rulings prevailed over wishful thinking and agitating behaviors. More…

Who, if anyone, is really opposed to the power sale? Reply

Utility activist Steven Fahert has taken it upon himself to read the minds of the six Vero Beach City Council candidates regarding their enthusiasm for the proposed power sale. Three candidates Faherty describes as "anti-sale," three as "pro-sale." In truth, none of the candidates have expressed opposition to the sale. The differences between the candidates on this issue has more to do with honesty and integrity. Some seek to fool voters into believing they can conclude the sale by somehow miraculously persuading the Florida Legislature and the Florida Supreme Court to set aside long-established contract law solely for the benefit of Vero Beach.

Utility activist Steven Faherty has taken it upon himself to read the minds of the six Vero Beach City Council candidates regarding their enthusiasm for the proposed power sale. Three candidates Faherty describes as “anti-sale,” three as “pro-sale.” In truth, none of the candidates have expressed opposition to the sale. The differences between the candidates on this issue has more to do with honesty and integrity. Some seek to fool voters into believing they can conclude the sale by somehow miraculously persuading the Florida Legislature and the Florida Supreme Court to set aside long-established contract law solely for the benefit of Vero Beach.


“Given these realities, I am left wondering what Faherty meant when he recently labeled three Vero Beach City Council candidates “pro-sale,” and three “anti-sale.”  Such simplicity may play well in a time when the public has little interest in details, and even less interest in hearing more about the power sale issue. But the fact is Faherty’s labels mean absolutely nothing. Given that none of the candidates, if elected, are going to be in a position to move the power sale forward, and given that some of them are claiming otherwise, you have to wonder what their promises really mean. Maybe it is more useful and relevant to determine which candidates are committed to standing up for the interests of the people of Vero Beach and the customers of Vero Electric.”


Just yesterday, a friend asked me, “Why are you against the power sale?”

“In principle, I am not opposed to the sale,” I told him. I went on to explain that the all-important underlying issue has always been how to structure the sale, and plan for its consequences, in a way that does not result in a significant decline in the quality of Vero Beach’s municipal services.

My friend lives on the south barrier island, so I took his question as an opportunity to remind him that he and his fellow south barrier island residents cannot buy so much as a roll of toilet paper without driving into the City of Vero Beach to shop.  “Imagine how uncomfortable you would be, and how difficult it would be to carry out commerce, without police protection,” I said.

For that matter, imagine trying to run any successful business, real estate brokerage for example, if Vero Beach were not able to offer such excellent services and amenities – plentiful, well-maintained parks and green space, guarded public beaches, recreation programs, clean streets, not to mention the Riverside Theatre and the Vero Beach Museum of Art, both of which occupy land leased from the City for just $1 a year. Without question, my friend and thousands of others who live in the unincorporated areas of Indian River County and in Indian River Shores benefit in countless ways from the quality of life made possible, at least in part, by the City’s exceptional services. More…

Is a link between the ocean and Bethel Creek Vero’s “Destin-y” 2

In order to flush out nitrogen and phosphorus loading in Destin Harbor the city built a pumping station connecting the harbor to the Gulf of Mexico.

In order to flush out nitrogen and phosphorus loading in Destin Harbor the city built a pumping station connecting the harbor to the Gulf of Mexico.

Editor’s note:  The article below by Nick Thomas describes an option for flushing the Bethel Creek area of Indian River Lagoon by installing underground pipes between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lagoon at Bethel Creek. It was first published May 1, 2013. A week ahead of the recent Aug. 30 primary election, County Commissioner Tim Zorc proposed a pilot project to test the concept. 

Related story: Sea water may flow into Bethel Creek


Thirty years ago, the City of Destin in Northwest Florida was incorporated from Okaloosa County.  The first order of business for the new City was to identify its strengths and move to protect them. For Destin, a town built on tourism, and the self-proclaimed home of Florida’s largest fishing fleet, the clear answer was to protect their famous sugar-sand beaches and the blue-green Harbor that served as both the economic and social hub of the City. More…

When changes in facts do not lead to altered opinions 2

Calcified minds are impervious to new information


“The difference between 30 percent and 3 percent is not a rounding error. Sykes, Solari, Gilmore, Moss, Turner, Howle and other so-called pro-sale advocates did not arrive at their exaggerated numbers by touching the wrong key on a calculator. No, theirs is an intentional effort to push for the sale by misleading the public into believing it would significantly benefit the local economy. Just as importantly, their claims of being able to find a way around the contractual obligations that have so far prevented the sale are nothing more than empty promises.”


Bob Solari

Bob Solari

Testifying before the Florida Public Service Commission this week, Florida Power & Light attorney R. Wayde Litchfield said that, if approved, the FPL’s proposed $1.3 billion rate increase will bring the utility giant’s rates closer to the statewide averages.

FPL’s willingness to justify its latest rate hike request on the basis of Litchfield’s argument signals a radical departure for the company, for FPL has spent heavily on a years-long marketing, advertising and public relations campaign positioning the Juno based, investor owned utility as the lowest cost electric provider in the state.

If approved, FPL’s rate hike request will bring the company’s monthly charge for 1000 kWh to $107.29 in June 2019. Adding a 6 percent franchise fee to $107.29 yields an average monthly bill of $113.73.  If Vero Electric’s rate remain the same, (all indications are the City’s rates will continue to decline in the coming years), that would leave a FPL-Vero Electric rate differential of 3.2 percent. More…

Feds to investigate Solari’s pet project 2

An official with the Environmental Protection Agency's Atlanta office announced today the agency is going to investigate concerns about the County's Spoonbill Marsh wastewater treatment facility. Some are concerned about unaccounted for, brine-contaminated water that may be leading into the Lagoon and onto adjacent properties.

An official with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Atlanta office announced today the agency is going to investigate concerns about the County’s Spoonbill Marsh wastewater treatment facility. Some are concerned about unaccounted for, brine-contaminated water that may be leading into the Lagoon and onto adjacent properties.


County Commissioner Bob Solari has blanketed the county with political post cards claiming Spoonbill Marsh, a wastewater treatment facility adjacent to the Indian River Lagoon, is helping to save the fragile estuary. Not everyone agrees with Solari that Spoonbill Marsh is doing its job.

Just today, Dennis Sayre, Acting Section Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Atlanta permitting and enforcement branch, wrote an email to Indian River County resident, Barry Shapiro, informing him the EPA is opening an investigation into complaints and concerns recently raise about the prospect brine-contaminated water is flowing into the Indian River Lagoon and onto adjacent properties, including an environmentally sensitive tract of land owned by the Indian River Land Trust.

“Please send any corroborating evidence that you have have to me either by email or through the mail at the address below. Specifically, DMR’s from January 2015 to June 2016, pictures of any flow going into the Indian River Lagoon from Spoonbill Marsh, a copy of the FDEP permit, and anything else that may aid in our investigation,” Sayre wrote.

Shapiro made his complaint in a email sent to EPA officials, as well as to other federal, state and local officials.  Sharpio’s email included the following,

“There is a scandal being perpetrated that no one is willing to talk about. This information is confirmed by leading scientists and environmentalists and yet the local media has not only not been made aware of the situation but in some cases where the have been tipped off they are burying the story until after the election. Most of our local media have endorsed both incumbents Bob Solari and Tim Zorc to return to the County Commission despite their false and misleading statements about just what the county is doing. I believe they are suppressing this story because they don’t want to look like schmucks just a couple of weeks after endorsing people who may possibly be committing criminal acts.”

Editor’s note: No one at the Land Trust is willing to talk about how Spoonbill Marsh may be impacting adjacent properties. A week has past since InsideVero made a public records request of the County asking for documentation of meeting and copies of written correspondence between County Commissioners, County Staff and representatives of the Land Trust. The County Attorney’s Office may be able to stall a local news website, but they will have a hard time ignoring or delaying on  public records request from the EPA.

Solari’s Indian River Shores connections 1


Solari looks north for the money to fund his campaign.

Solari looks north for the money to fund his campaign.

Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari is a resident of the City of Vero Beach. He represents District 5 on the Commission, which includes Vero Beach and Indian River Shores.

Fifty-five percent of the money Solari has raised to fund his campaign has come from Indian River Shores residents, and only 15% from the remainder of District 5.

One John’s Island business owner, who at least at one time had an ownership interest in Vero Beach 32963, contributed $500 to Solari’s campaign.  32963 has been harshly critical of Solari’s opponent, Vero Beach Mayor Jay Kramer.

Thirty percent of the $58,745.15 in contributions recently reported by Solari came from outside District 5, including $2,000 from a Stuart couple, Thomas and Kristina McNicholas.


32963’s latest attack on Kramer is a campaign ‘ad’ for Solari 4

Island Bully

“The island weekly’s editorial urging readers not to vote for Kramer in his primary challenge to Solari is further evidence that Solari is the candidate who can be counted on to work for the disincorporation of the City of Vero Beach. If the people of Vero Beach want to lose their city, then Solari is the candidate to support come Aug. 30. If the people of the Shores and the County want to see more contentiousness in local politics, more lawsuits, more empty promises about addressing the Lagoon crisis, then Solari is your man.”






Vero Beach 32963’s latest attack on Vero Beach Mayor Jay Kramer is remanicent of other instances when it appeared the newspaper’s publisher and/or editors were incapable of censuring themselves or in moderating their tone.

For example, the island weekly once published a half page picture of a local woman making a less than ladylike gesture to a 32963 paparazzi. Other photographs were available to illustrate the story on the dangers of driving while distracted, but that did not keep the island weekly from needlessly embarrassing the young mother and her family.  Then there was the time 32963 carried a DUI booking photograph on the front page, even though the picture was not directly related to the current offense being reported.  Why use the older photo? “Because,” the publisher told me, “it was the stronger image.”

More importantly, the weekly’s latest rant is further evidence of its bias against the City of Vero Beach, its leaders and its employees.

Now comes 32963’s accusation that Kramer has been “duplicitous” in his dealings with Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot. The Shores-centric island weekly’s latest temper tantrum rises out of years of mounting frustration over the newspaper’s failure to aid in the election of a majority of Vero Beach City Council candidate who will kowtow to Shores leaders. More…

What is really going on at Spoonbill Marsh? 3


County Commissioner Bob Solari, who is running for re-election, has made the effectiveness of Spoonbill Marsh an issue in his campaign, bragging in campaign mailers to be the driving force behind the wastewater treatment facility.  

County Commissioner Bob Solari, who is running for re-election, has made the effectiveness of Spoonbill Marsh an issue in his campaign, bragging in campaign mailers to be the driving force behind the facility, which filters brine water.

Earlier this week, Inside Vero submitted a public records request to the County Attorney’s Office seeking copies of written correspondence and calendar evidence of meetings between County Commissioners and County Staff and representatives of the Indian River Land Trust regarding the possible flow of brine-contaminated water from the County’s Spoonbill Marsh brine water filtration project onto adjacent Land Trust property. No one at the County Attorney’s office is available to address our public records request until after Aug. 24.

Land Trust Executive Director Ken Gruden did not return our call, and no one at the Land Trust appears willing at this point to speak on the record. One Land Trust staff member did ask us to “please” follow up with him after receiving the County’s response to our public records request. 

Yesterday, Barry Shapiro, a concerned citizen, distributed the following email raising his concerns about a possible cover up of issues at Spoonbill Marsh.

From: Barry Shapiro 

Date: Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 10:14 AM

Subject: Important information for anyone who cares about our environment. More…

Beating a dead horse – at the expense of Vero Electric’s rate payers 2



Indina River County Attorney Dylan Reingold, much like John Dean of the Nixon White House, is a fine young lawyer stuck doing someone else's dirty work.

Indina River County Attorney Dylan Reingold, much like John Dean of the Nixon White House, is a fine young lawyer stuck doing someone else’s dirty work.

Several months ago, Indian River County Attorney Dylan Reinhold claimed he was encouraged by an official of the Florida Municipal Power Agency to continue looking for ways to complete the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light. Supposedly, this conversation took place between Reinhold and a lobbyist for the FMPA.

Most likely, the elevator conversation amounted to far less than Reinhold has made it out to be, for the reality is that no one at the FMPA, or the City of Vero Beach, or the County, or Indian River Shores, or FPL is in a position to re-write Florida contract law. The impediments to the sale, as negotiated between 2011-2013 at a cost of more than $2 million to the ratepayers of Vero Electric, are numerous and complicated, but essentially it boils down to the fact the Vero Beach’s position in two FMPA coal power projects, (Stanton I and Stanton II), are underwater. More…