National Geographic Adventurer of the Year to speak at Emerson Center this evening Reply

IV.032013.Roz Savage.2National Geographic Adventurer of the Year will speak this evening at the Emerson Center as a part of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association’s 2013 Planet and Oceans Speaker Series.Savage became the first woman to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean alone.

IV.032013.Roz Savage.1Stuck in a corporate job and facing an unraveling marriage, Savage turned her back on an eleven-year career as a management consultant to reinvent herself as a woman of adventure.

Savage will talk about her adventure and her book, “Rowing the Atlantic: Lesson Learned on the Open Ocean.  Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, and $25 for students.  For more information call 772.778.5249.

City Council accepts Twin Pairs traffic calming study Reply

Currently, seven lanes of roadway are speeding traffic through downtown Vero Beach at rates unacceptable for a mixed use area, which includes professional offices, restaurants, art galleries, and retail stores.

Currently, seven lanes of roadway are speeding traffic through downtown Vero Beach, a mixed use area, which includes professional offices, restaurants, art galleries, and retail stores.

VERO BEACH – After hearing from members of the public for more than two hours Tuesday evening, the Vero Beach City Council voted 4-1 to accept a “Twin Pairs” traffic calming study conduced by Kimley-Horn & Associates.  Describing the study as “fatally flawed,” Mayor Craig Fletcher cast the lone dissenting vote. More…

Vero Beach Art Club working to build a home of its own 1

The Vero Beach Art Club's proposed community art center would feature feature local artists, and would enable the club to offer classes, workshops and other programs for local artists.

The Vero Beach Art Club’s proposed community art center would feature feature local artists, and would enable the club to offer classes, workshops and other programs for local artists.

IV.032013.Art Club Plans

VERO BEACH – In a letter to the City Council Vero Beach Art Club President Mary Ellen Kosner informed the city the club would like to build “a home of our own.” More…

Perhaps magical mystery tour should begin in Fort Pierce, without Heran 1

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Councilwoman Pilar Turner

Councilwoman Pilar Turner

In hopes of clearing a path to an early January 2014 closing on the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light, Councilwoman Pilar Turner is planning to visit all 14 cities now participating in the Florida Municipal Power Agency’s All Requirements Project.   With the help of the city’s transactional attorneys and utility activist Glenn Heran, Turner reportedly hopes to convince the governing boards in each of those cities to grant Vero Beach a waiver to the group’s notice requirement. 

Before taking off for distant cities, such as Key West, Turner might save some travel time and expense by heading first to Fort Pierce, where she will need to meet with the board of directors of the Fort Pierce Utility Authority.  Turner might also do well to not take Heran along on her “goodwill tour,” given Heran’s earlier public statements about the FMPA being “an institution of inefficiency that cannot justify its continued existence.”   More…

Despite what you might read in the press, Twin Pairs traffic calming proposal has support 1

Built in the early 1990s to solve accommodate I-95 traffic that no longer detours through Vero Beach, the Twin Pairs project only served to create what amounts to a superhighway bifurcating the downtown area.

Built in the early 1990s to accommodate I-95 traffic that no longer detoured through Vero Beach, the Twin Pairs project only served to create what amounts to a superhighway bifurcating the downtown area.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

IV.Mark Schumann Head ShotEmploying what he asserted was common sense, Press Journal columnist Russ Lemmon suggested this weekend the best way to resolve the Twin Pairs issues would be to hold a straw poll. A straw poll?  All arguments melt before the siring heat of such fiery logic.

Along with editorial writers for both the Press Journal and the island weekly, Lemmon seems not to appreciate the importance to the larger community of building a vibrant downtown area. More…

Baker: Talk of America’s decline is badly exaggerated 2

James Baker

James Baker

MILT THOMAS

James A. Baker III spoke to capacity crowds this past Saturday at the Emerson Center with an optimistic, but cautionary, talk about our country’s present and future. He was the final speaker in this season’s Celebrated Speaker series and by many accounts, the best.

Baker’s accomplishments and credentials are without peer. He managed five consecutive presidential campaigns between 1975 and 1992 and served under three U.S. presidents (Ford, Reagan, Bush 41). He held positions as chief of staff to President Reagan four years and secretary of the treasury and secretary of state, the last to hold that position during the Cold War.

His accomplishments have certainly earned him respect as an elder statesman and his talk Saturday reflected the knowledge and insight he gained over the years. He began by admonishing those who talk about America being in a state of decline. “In the 1980s, we were told that Japan Inc. was taking over the world, democracy was too weak to defeat communism and the European Union would eclipse us economically.”

Of course none of that happened, but there is again talk of decline. “The last decade has taken quite a toll, from the tragedy of 9-11, a financial collapse, followed by a protracted recession, a fiscal crisis that threatens our credit worthiness and polarized politics.”

More…

Fixing the Twin Pairs benefits our entire community 2

VICKY GOULD

vicky GouldMy name is Vicky Gould and I’m the VP of MSVB. I’m also a resident of a downtown neighborhood, Osceola Park, which is the first neighborhood in the COVB to be named to the National Register of Historic Places. I’m also someone whose family moved to Vero Beach in the late 1940s (as did my husband’s family) and I grew up here.

As I’ve said many times before, I want ALL areas of our county to be successful. We have some distinct areas in Vero such as the beachside, Royal Palm Pointe, Miracle Mile, the U.S. 1 corridor, the Mall area, and the historic heart of our city, downtown Vero Beach.

What we want for our downtown is what makes for vibrant, successful downtowns all over the country: a design that respects and accommodates people of all abilities. We do not have that in our downtown. What we have is a straightaway that encourages high speeds and disregards pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The fact that we don’t have that on the beachside, Royal Palm Pointe, or Miracle Mile is quite telling to me.

More…

If you care about downtown Vero Beach… 1

MILT THOMAS

MILT THOMAS

MILT THOMAS

…You will want to be at the next Vero Beach City Council  meeting this coming Tuesday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m. That is when the Twin Pairs traffic calming project approved last week by the Planning and Zoning Committee in a 4-1 vote, comes before City Council. It’s do or die for the project in this meeting – if approved, it moves ahead to the next step; if rejected, it is back to square one.

Those opposed to the project have based their opposition on “It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.” The reality is that it is not only broken, but it was a project that was totally unnecessary from the day it began. It’s like going to the hospital and waking up to find you have had a kidney transplant you didn’t need. So what if you have three kidneys, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That may seem like a stretch of logic, but so was the Twin Pairs.

All the reasons to move this project forward were eloquently stated at last week’s Planning and Zoning meeting. Please read the guest editorial by Vicky Gould that follows, which sums up the sentiment and facts behind this 20-year effort, first expressed by City officials and confirmed by countless studies, vision plans and town hall meetings.

If correcting this “road to no good” is important to you – and it should be – than be at the City Council meeting next Tuesday at six o’clock to show your support for the traffic calming project.

Will politics give pork a bad name? Reply

MILT THOMAS

IV.012713Milt ThomasWhen I met Nick Anderson at C.J. Cannon’s, I thought he was a politician. First of all, this is not Nick Anderson, retired NBA star. The Nick Anderson I am referring to is in the pork business. Naturally, when he said that, I assumed it was code for politician. But then he said no, he raises hogs. Now most people refer to their teenage kids’ appetites that way, but I was wrong again. Nick is a pig farmer from Iowa.

I’m sure he’s had a pork belly full of jokes associated with his profession. “Yeah,” he said, “I’ve heard them all, including that one.”

I asked him what he was doing in Florida and found out he lives here during the winter. “So what do your pigs do for the winter?” I asked.

“They are nice and warm. In the summer, they are comfortably cool. You see, pigs aren’t raised outdoors anymore, because they don’t have that insulating layer of fat.”

More…

Back to kindergarten – for a day Reply

Patty McKay teaching her class of kindergartners at Glendale Elementary.
Patty McKay teaching her class of kindergartners at Glendale Elementary.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Alexandria Kent, Emilio Challacombe, Carol Martinez. Miss McKay

Alexandria Kent, Emilio Challacombe, Carol Martinez. Miss McKay

To better understand the challenges today’s teachers face, I recently spent a day with Patty McKay and her class of kindergarteners at Glendale Elementary.

When I arrived, Miss McKay was standing at the front of the room pointing to the letters of the alphabet.   Fifteen adorable, bright, funny, fidgety children were sitting at Miss McKay’s feet sounding out each letter one at a time.  I took a seat in a chair sized for a six-year-old and listened – closely.  “If we spend the whole day on this exercise, maybe I’ll leave here a better phonetic speller,” I thought to myself.

As the children and Miss McKay sounded their way through all 26 letters of alphabet and a few diphthongs, I thought of the Learning Alliance’s “Moon Shot Moment” objective.  This local group’s ambitious goal is to enable 90 percent of Indian River County’s third graders to read at grade level by 2018.

Alexandria Kent

Alexandria Kent

It then occurred to me that when the children in Miss McKay’s class are completing third grade in 2016, some percentage of them will likely be struggling to read.  It’s important for these kids to learn to read. Otherwise they will have difficulty making it in an increasingly competitive, high-tech job market.  Who knows what work world awaits them some 16 years from now?  Hopefully each of them will have an opportunity to go to college.  Wishful thinking, I know. More…

Heritage Center celebrates 12,000 years of local history Reply

History came alive at the Heritage Celebration

History came alive at the Heritage Celebration

What do Seminole Indian clothing, shipwrecks and mastodon bones have in common?  They are all part of Indian River County’s history and were all on display at last night’s Heritage Celebration event at the Downtown Vero Beach Heritage Center. Twenty exhibits arranged in a timeline representing people, places and events from our local history captivated the two hundred plus attendees. Several exhibitors were dressed in period attire, including two “cave people” representing the Vero Man display which included prehistoric animal bones and early human implements.

More…

New York Times: Cities Weigh Taking Over From Private Utilities Reply

Editor’s Note:  Sourcing a Florida Trend article headlined “A Surge in Interest,” the island weekly this week ran an story suggesting there may soon be a surge of Florida cities following the lead of Vero Beach, which is seeking to sell its electric system to Florida Power & Light.  On the other side, the New York Times ran a story this past Wednesday headlined, “Cities Weigh Taking Over from Private Utilities.” The Times article reported that across the country, cities are showing a renewed interest in taking over the electricity business from private utilities due to a desire for more local control of utility decisions to meet local needs.

BY DIANE CARDWELL/NEW YORK TIMES

Published March 13, 2013

Across the country, cities are showing a renewed interest in taking over the electricity business from private utilities, reflecting intensifying concerns about climate change, responses to power disruptions and a desire to pump more renewable energy into the grid.

Read More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/business/energy-environment/cities-weigh-taking-electricity-business-from-private-utilities.html?ref=business&_r=2&pagewanted=all&

Newspaper’s report on Turner’s planned state-wide tour needs correction, some perspective Reply

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Sourcing a recent Florida Trend magazine article on the proposed sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light, the island weekly quoted Florida Municipal Electric Associating executive director Barry Moline as saying “contagious discontent over rates could spread like wildfire across Florida.”

Nowhere in the Florida Trend article, however, is Moline quoted making any such statement.  Further, the island weekly attributed to Moline a direct quote by Vero Beach City Councilman Jay Kramer.

Here are the words the paper put in Moline’s mouth:  “Vero Beach is just the first domino to fall, you’re going to start seeing it more and more.”

Coming from a councilman serving a city with a population 15,000, that quote has a quite different meaning than if it had been spoken by the executive director of a state-wide organization in a state with a population of 19 million.

More broadly, the island weekly gave a sympathetic voice to Councilwoman Pilar Turner’s strategy for convincing FMPA’s member cities to agree to fundamental contract changes that would all but gut the organization and render its revenue bonds worthless. More…

The Cultural Council announces 2013 Laurel Awards Honorees Reply

The Laurel Awards were designed in 1995 to honor those members of Indian River County who have exhibited exemplary support and leadership in benefiting arts and cultural institutions.  Nominated by a member organization, the honorees were selected by the executive directors of the Palm Beach Cultural Council, the Arts Council of Martin County, and the Arts & Cultural Alliance of St. Lucie, as outstanding leaders in the field of cultural leadership, volunteer leadership, and business leadership. More…

FPL president tells investors Gov. Scott is urging other municipal utilities to sell to FPL Reply

The Palm Beach Post reported today that Florida Power & Light President Eric Silagy told investors discussions between Vero Beach and FPL began after business leaders in the city noticed FPL ads touting the company’s lower rates.

Vero Beach officials did first approach FPL, but most electric customers in the community were clear about the rate differential between the city and FPL long before the company unleashed a barrage of newspaper and direct mail advertising. More…

Referendum vote will either lead to a sale in early 2014, or to a dead end and higher rates. Only time will tell. 3

BY MARK SCHUMANN

IV.Mark Schumann Head ShotWith yesterday’s overwhelming voter approval of the proposed asset purchase and sale agreement between the City of Vero Beach and Florida Power & Light, the city either moved one step closer to selling its electric system, or it inched a little further down an long, “arduous” path that may ultimately lead to a dead end.  Only time will tell.

As late as yesterday, Mayor Craig Fletcher insisted he is “70 percent” confident of closing the deal in early 2014.   Along with Fletcher, commenters on TCPalm.com last night who were repeating the mantra, “Sell it now!” clearly haven’t absorbed the reality that numerous and perhaps insurmountable hurdles lie ahead. More…

City voters approve power deal, “arduous” negotiations ahead Reply

BY MARK SCHUMANN

IV.012813.Power PlantBy a margin of nearly 2-1, Vero Beach voters approved a proposed asset purchase and sale agreement that could turn the city’s electric system over to Florida Power & Light, perhaps as early as January 2014.

Out of 3,664 votes cast, 978 were by absentee ballot.   Fully 74 percent of the absentee votes were in favor of the referendum, providing proponents with half their total margin of victory. More…

County will need to take the lead in saving the lagoon Reply

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.

Reducing storm water runoff, and possibly reversing the flow of draining canals such as the one above were among the suggestions discussed recently at the Indian River Lagoon Symposium sponsored by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Opining about how actions speak louder than words, a newspaper editorial today argued that the Vero Beach City Council should do more than make pronouncements in support of protecting the Indian River Lagoon.

Ironically, the editorial writer failed to acknowledge that the City Council adopted and is enforcing a model fertilizer ordinance, though the Indian River County Commission has refused to do the same.

More…

Application withdrawn for new charter elementary school at Pointe West Reply

Somerset Academy, Inc., a Miami based charger school group which proposed a new charter elementary school to serve up to 1,250 Indian River County students withdrew is application Monday afternoon.  Somerset’s application was to be considered by the Indian River County School Board at its meeting this evening. More…

Vero Beach power referendum today Reply

IV.031213.Referendum

VoicesForVero_SaveOurCityVero Beach voters will go to the polls today to approve or reject a proposed contract between the city and Florida Power & Light for the sale of Vero Electric.

Proponents of the sale, including Citizens for a Brighter Future and Florida Power & LIght, have run a heavy schedule of direct mail and television advertising over the past few weeks, along with street signs and newspaper ads.

IV.Yes!Voices for Vero, a political action committee opposing the sale under the terms proposed, also ran ads in the local newspaper, mailed post cards urging the electorate to vote “no,”  and placed signes throughout the city.  Should the referendum pass, the group plans to challenge the deal in court.

Beyond a likely court challenge, if approved by voters, the deal faces other hurdles, ones which the city’s transactional attorneys have described as “arduous.”  Today’s referendum, then, will likely determine if the proposal to sell the full electric system will be shelved, or if the struggle will continue.

Was County Commissioner Solari’s political advocacy from the dais within the law? Reply

IV.031113.Solari on the line

BY MARK SCHUMANN

During last week’s County Commission meeting, held at public expense and recorded for broadcast and rebroadcast at public expense, Commissioner Bob Solari took advantage of his position on the dais to advocate for passage of tomorrow’s referendum on the proposed sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light.

Solari’s “shout out” for a “yes” vote was also communicated in a memo to his fellow commissioners, a memo produced and copied at public expense and then included in backup materials for the March 5 meeting of the County Commission.

If Solari’s actions were not in violation of Florida election law, he was certainly skirting the line. More…