From Vero to Zero 4

BY MILT THOMAS

Milt Thomas

Milt Thomas

One story dominating local news for some time is the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. Arguments for and against the sale have been presented, reported, debated, dissected, obfuscated and elucidated. The most popular argument in favor of a sale is that the cost of electricity will be substantially lower. Most Vero Electric customers live on the mainland where the jobs are. Electric bills represent a much greater burden for people in low paying jobs, fixed income retirees and the unemployed. A reduction in electric bills is a more powerful incentive to them than it is to professionals or high net worth retirees. More…

Council moves one step closer to signing power deal Reply

IV.021313.City Council 2

VERO BEACH – Tuesday’s special call meeting of the City Council opened with Councilman Richard Winger requesting that consideration of the asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and Florida Power & Light be postponed two weeks.  Winger said he thought the Council should have more time to analyze the revised version of the agreement sent out over the weekend. More…

Dancing for Puppy Love Reply

Kitty Wagner, Martin Lavander, Kerry Firth, Mark Wygonik

Kitty Wagner, Martin Lavander, Kerry Firth, Mark Wygonik

Kerry Firth, one of ten star dancers in this season’s 5th Annual Dancing with Vero’s Stars, benefiting the Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition and Riverside Theatre, recently volunteered her time to help raise funds for the Blue Ribbon Charitable Foundation’s pet friendly Puppy Love on Parade.

The event was held outside of the Blue Star Wine Bar on Sunday, February 10.   Hundreds of pets brought their owners out for music, food, drinks, contests and a doggie kissing booth.  Proceeds from the event were to assist pets of Indian River County including the K-9 officers and the Pet Medical Assistance Program which helps people who cannot afford medical care for their pets.

Tickets for Dancing with Vero’s Stars, to be held at Riverside Theatre on Saturday evening May 11, are now on sale at $200 for exclusive seating, $150 for premium seating and $100 for general seating. They may be purchased by visiting the Riverside Theatre Box Office in person, calling the Riverside Theatre Box Office directly at 231-6990 or online at www.Dancingwithverostars.com.

 

In workshop set for Tuesday morning, Council will consider deal with FPL Reply

Though Councilman Richard Winger submitted 13 agenda items for tomorrow’s special call meeting of the Council,  only the first six of his requested points for consideration appeared on the city website at of 7 p.m. Monday.  The meeting is being held to consider the proposed asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and Florida Power & Light.

If all of the items Winger proposed for review are covered at tomorrow’s 9:30 a.m. workshop, the Council will consider the nature of the city’s obligation to secure FMPA approval of the deal, FPL’s level of commitment to Vero Electric employees, the status of the plan to give FPL the former postal annex site, lease arrangements that may enable FPL to avoid local taxes, concerns over pension obligations to union-represented employees, the question of the potential cost to the city if the closing is delayed beyond January 2014 by as much as three years, and more. More…

Up With People to perform March 1 and 2 at VBHS Performing Arts Center Reply

IV.Up With People

The multi-national cast of Up with People, which has toured 38 countries around the world during the last 47-years, has announced that Vero Beach will be a stop on their 2013 tour. 

While in Vero Beach between February 25 and March 4, Up with People will spend time participating in service projects and live with local host families. Up with People is currently recruiting families to host international cast members during their stay in Vero Beach. The sharing goes both ways…while families share their traditions and local attractions, the cast members share their experiences and cultures. By the end of their five-month world tour, the cast will visit dozens of communities throughout the United States, Asia, and Mexico. More…

Coy and Minner to address Indian River Neighborhood Association Luncheon Feb. 12 Reply

Sebastian Councilwoman Andrea Coy and City Manager Al Minner will address the Indian River Neighborhood Association at a noon luncheon Tuesday, February 12,  to be held at Capt. Hiram’s in Sebastian.  Coy and Minner will discuss plans for Sebastian’s future, with particular emphasis on the ideas for the river front.

The luncheon is open to the public, and the lunch cost is $15 payable at the door.  Reservations are strongly suggested. Contact the Indian River Neighborhood Association at  772-794-4762, or by email at exdir.irna@comcast.net.

Contract signing may put utility system in limbo for years 10

The proposed sale of Vero Electric for FPL's offer, valued at $197 million, will net the city just $4 million.  Councilmen Jay Kramer and Richard Winger both believe a partial sale would net the city more than $50 million.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

When the City Council voted to hold a binding referendum on the sale of Vero Electric March 12, it adopted the following language.

Do you approve of the sale and disposition of the City of Vero Beach electric utility and substantially all of its assets for the purpose of exiting the electric utility business under terms substantially similar to the asset purchase and sale agreement between the City and Florida Power & Light Company?

At the time the wording of the referendum question was approved, the asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and FPL, as well as the power purchase agreements between the city, FPL and the Orlando Utilities Commission, called for a closing in January 2014.

Since December 8, when the council first approved the referendum wording, a key provision in the contract has changed substantially, namely the closing date.  Because it is now obvious the city will remain obligated to the Florida Municipal Power Agency’s 15-member All Requirement Project through September 30, 2016, FPL, the OUC and the city’s transactional attorneys changed the contract to provide for a three-year window – from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016. More…

Corvette fans fill McKee Botanical Gardens Reply

IV.021013.McKee.1

BY CRAIG RESTLE

As one entered the 2013 Vero Beach Corvette show at McKee Botanical Gardens, you could not have helped been taken aback by the first display.  A stunning 1953 original Corvette positioned side-by-side with a brand-new 2013 60 year anniversary Corvette.

There, in one view, the history of the Chevrolet Corvette: America’s only true sports car.Vero Beach and The Treasure Coast’s proud Corvette fans and owners were everywhere, both in the show and in the parking lot. In fact, I arrived at 11 AM virtually one hour after the show began only to be guided by the police away from the overflowing lot to a makeshift lot down the road.  Luckily, a shuttle service took participants back to the show and then back to their car when the show was over. More…

Lagoon symposium: Should county commissions take the lead in preservation efforts? 2

At the second annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium sponsored by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, participants discussed ways of taking more effective action to preserve one of North America's most ecologically diverse estuaries.  Reducing storm water runoff, and possibly reversing the flow of draining canals such as the one above were among the suggestions discussed at the symposium.

At the second annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium sponsored by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, participants discussed ways of taking more effective action to preserve one of North America’s most ecologically diverse estuaries. Reducing storm water runoff, and possibly reversing the flow of drainage canals such as the one pictured above were among the suggestions discussed at the symposium.

More…

County’s attempt to take on south barrier island water and sewer service defies logic Reply

BY MARK SCHUMANN

In the early 1980s, when the county first considered connecting the unincorporated area of the south barrier island to its mainland water and sewer system, it was determined the cost could not be justified.

Explaining the county’s decision to forgo building a subaqueous crossing of the Indian River Lagoon, then county utility director Terry Pinto was quoted in a newspaper article saying, “We believe the most cost efficient method to serve the South Beach is to let the city do it.” More…

Editorial Cartoon Reply

IV.Ostrich

While the Council troika continues to pretend the city will be able to sell its electric system before late 2016, if at all, 34,000 customers are stuck paying unnecessarily high rates.  There are viable options, but those alternatives, including the formation of a utility authority and/or a sale of the 22,000 customers outside the city limits, will never be identified and understood so long as a majority of the the Council continues to pretend all is well with the proposed sale of Vero Electric to FLorida Power & Light.

Is the sun rising or setting on the Middle East? 1

IV.Egypt.1

BY MILT THOMAS

EDITOR’S NOTE: InsideVero Contributing Editor, Milt Thomas, is traveling in the Middle East, and will be corresponding with our readers as he journeys to Egypt to the United Arib Emirates

Milt Thomas

Milt Thomas

One day we were in Benha City (population 750,000) riding in a taxi and stuck in traffic. Directly in front of us was a sight totally out of place. It was a horse-drawn carriage, at least 50 years old, probably much more. The carriage reminded me that wherever you go in Egypt, you realize this is a civilization thousands of years older than ours. But what drew my attention to this carriage was its wheels. They were wobbly, each seeming to move independent of the others, worn down to the rims and looked like they could fall off at any minute. More…

Celebrated Speaker Series lecturer, Hedrick Smith, addresses the plight of America’s middle class Reply

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith

BY MARK SCHUMANN

IV.021712.Smith.2Tens of millions of Americans who formerly shared in the prosperity of what had been a “great middle class” are now among the ranks of what the New York Times calls” the new poor.”

The causes of the steady, four-decade decline in the standard of living for middle class Americans was addressed by author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith, who spoke at the Emerson Center yesterday as a participant in the Celebrated Speakers Series. More…

New executive director joins Healthy Start Coalition 1

Kathleen Cain

Kathleen Cain

Joseph RobinsonChairman of the Board of Directors of the Indian River Healthy Start Coalition (IRCHSC)announces Kathleen Ann Cain as the new Executive Director for the non-profit organization.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are very pleased to have Kathleen joining the Healthy Start Coalition,” states Robinson. “Her outstanding expertise in providing accountability, strategic planning, and clinical and business initiatives to IRCHSC, as well as her knowledge of health care and non-profit organizations while coupled with an extraordinary management style, makes her the perfect fit for this organization.” More…

So, where is that “plan” for closing the city’s budget gap? 2

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Mayor Craig Fletcher

Mayor Craig Fletcher

In answer to a question posed at a candidate forum last fall, Vero Beach City Councilman Craig Fletcher said a plan exists for closing the budget gap that will result from the sale of its electric system.

Depending on what opportunities the city has for restructuring its pension plan, the general fund budget shortfall is projected to be between $1.5 million and $3 million.

About the many questions regarding what the final terms of the sales agreement with Florida Power & Light will ultimately be, or about the costs to the city of a delayed closing, or about how the sale will impact city taxes and services, Fletcher remains curiously silent. More…

Poll: Referendum on Vero Electric sale Reply

Charter amendment petition circulating Reply

A group including former city attorney Charlie Vitunac is circulation a Charter Amendment petition.  If approved by voters, the proposed amendment to the City Charter would protect both the power plant site and the water treatment site for commercial use without voter approval.  The form, which appears below, can be printed and mailed to:  2606 Mockingbird Drive, Vero Beach, FL  32963.

Charter Amendment Petition