Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING:

McKee Botanical Garden is proud to be a Blue Star Museum and one of more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense. McKee Botanical Garden will offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 29, through Labor Day, September 4. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and to learn more about their community.

FRIDAY & SATURDAY, JUNE 2 & 3

AT RIVERSIDE THEATRE

— Comedy Zone-Summer Nights: Shows at 7:30 and 9:30 pm with comedians Philly Plowden and Juanita Lolita.

–Live in the Loop: Free Outdoor Concerts beginning at 6 pm with Wiley Nash (rockin’ blues) on Friday and Voodoo (groovy rock) on Saturday. Visit RiversideTheatre.com for more information. More…

A Father and Son Memorial Day Reply

Jim and David Thompson  –  Once again my son David came to town and we went in uniform to the Memorial Day Service on Veterans Memorial Island. He wore his dress blues and I wore my BDUs. It’s our small way of paying tribute to those in Lincoln’s words who, “Gave the last full measure of devotion”.  (David’s grandfather, J.A. “Coach” Thompson, also served in the U.S. Coast Guard.)

The very good, the bad and the ugly 8

FPL Letter of Intent

“FP&L’s $30 million offer for a Partial Sale is low, and should it be accepted, over time, the city will have to raise rates for every remaining ratepayer to absorb the loss of the Shores customers.” 

RICHARD WINGER/VERO BEACH CITY COUNCILMAN

Richard Winger

It is Very Good that Florida Power and Light has presented a new Letter of Intent to purchase Vero Beach’s entire Electric Utility. They outlined costs and terms, which signal the start of negotiations prior to a contract being signed.

Negotiations, simply put, occur when each participant has something to gain and something to lose. A successful negotiation concludes when each party benefits to the maximum extent possible.

The financial offer for the system is considerably lower than the last contract signed 3 years ago. And, it does not take into consideration the millions spent since that time to upgrade the system, close the plant, etc. My responsibility to the people of Vero Beach and the ratepayers of the Utility requires my attention to such detail. It is a starting point in negotiations.

Moving towards the full sale, through myriad details,  is something I have worked on for years and I sincerely want it to be completed this time.

FP&L last submitted a Letter of Intent on August 2012.  It led to a contract for sale in March 2014. That contract could not be executed because of contractual obligations, upheld by law, with other agencies to produce, transmit and distribute electricity. That contract expired December 31, 2016.

Those obligations exist because Vero Beach is a member city in the Florida Municipal Power Authority.  There are 19 other member cities which must, unanimously, approve an exit. This obligation blocked the sale previously, but there is a new level of optimism that approval can finally be accomplished. More…

Historic Dodgertown’s annual Memorial Day Invitational set to welcome teams from across the state Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Historic Dodgertown, one of the nation’s most popular tournament destinations, will welcome nearly 50 youth teams and their families this weekend at the annual Memorial Day Invitational, a baseball tournament for youth ages 9 to 14.

Families from throughout Florida, from as far as Jacksonville to Miami, will travel to Vero Beach for the three-day tournament. Game times are scheduled throughout each day, from 8 a.m. under blue skies to 8 p.m. under the lights. The public is invited to attend and tickets are priced at just $5 per person each day. Concession stands will be open and parking is free. 

Historic Dodgertown provides tournament participants an experience not found elsewhere.

From 1948-2008, Historic Dodgertown was the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Today, the same fields and facilities used by the tournament teams are the same as trained and played on by Hall of Famers from Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Sandy Koufax, to managers Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, and to recent inductees Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza, both of whom started their careers right here at Dodgertown in Vero Beach. 

In 2012, Historic Dodgertown opened the Quad, a set of four fields designed for youth baseball and accordance with girls and women’s softball regulations. Recently the State Junior College Softball Championships and the State High School Softball Championships were held at the Quad.

Historic Dodgertown welcomes tournaments and games throughout the year in the sports of baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, football, and land training for water sports. In addition the conference center, including hotel villa rooms and recreational amenities (pool, tennis, basketball, sand volleyball, paths and fields for recreation), hosts business meetings, parties, retreats, reunions and social gatherings.

To learn more about Historic Dodgertown, please visit HistoricDodgertown.com or call (772) 569-4900.

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.

Cultural Calendar Reply

OPPORTUNITIES

Visit cultural-council.org for Calls to Artists, Auditions, Scholarships and more opportunities throughout the state or sign up for our Monday Morning Newsletter at cultural-council.org.

Singers! Community Church invites you to participate in the July 2 Independence Day Celebration. Rehearsal on June 28, 7 pm.

McKee Botanical Garden is currently accepting photo submissions for the 13th Annual Waterlily Photo Contest in conjunction with the Annual Waterlily Celebration to be held on Saturday, June 17. Deadline for submission is June 13.
Image: 2016 Honorable Mention – “Beautiful Reflection” by Lee Benson More…

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

NEWS RELEASE

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…

Health Care on Wheels mobile health clinic to be at VNA offices beginning June 1 Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Beginning June 1, VNA’s Health Care on Wheels mobile health clinic will now be at VNA’s offices six days a week.

Starting June 1, the Visiting Nurse Association’s (VNA) Health Care on Wheels mobile health clinic will now be stationed six days a week at VNA’s Vero Beach office located at 1110 35th Lane, Vero Beach 32960. Hours of operation will remain the same, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., closing for lunch from 12 – 1 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Serving residents of Indian River County for over 25 years, VNA’s mobile health clinic has treated over 53,000 patients at no-cost and has served as a much needed resource to residents in need of same-day, non-emergency medical attention but do not have the means or coverage to pay for it. The clinic is operated by the VNA in collaboration with the Indian River County Hospital District.

VNA registered nurse practitioners on board the clinic can examine, diagnose and prescribe medications for minor, non-urgent illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, sore throats, earaches and minor cuts. The clinic also offers school, sports and work physicals. Immunization records are required for school and sports physicals. Patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. For children to receive care, they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The low cost price options for the Health Care on Wheel’s services are $60 for a sick visit; $40 for work physicals; and $30 for sports physicals.  There is no charge for services for uninsured residents of Indian River County who have the Hospital District Care Card. Applications for the card can be picked up at the clinic. 

For more information about the VNA’s Health Care on Wheels and its services please visit www.vnatc.com, or call 772-567-5551.

 

Dogs For Life celebrates donors, volunteers, graduates 1

Devon Williams of Quilt of Valor presents to Jim Taylor and his service dog Paipai

Shelly Ferger, CEO/Founder of Dogs For Life, along with the DFL board members, staff, donors, and friends celebrated their 2016 top donors, volunteers, and assistance dog team graduates.

Kathi G. Schumann, board president, expressed her ongoing dedication to DFL and their consolidated focus to assist the veterans of Indian River County. During the awards presentation, she also cited the criteria for the Kathi Schumann Award, which was presented for the first year and given to L.A. Bykowsky.

There was much socializing and engaging introductions with new donors, volunteer award recipients, 2 graduating service dog teams and 7 re-certifying team members.

2016 Award Recipients

Assistance Dog Team…………………….Larry Ingham and Lola

Pet-Assisted Therapy Dog Program.……..Laura Beebe and Sadie

Volunteer of the Year Award..……………Sherry Ingham

Individual Philanthropist Award………….Kathi G. Schumann

Corporate Philanthropist Award…………Coast to Coast Landscaping

Corporate Philanthropist Award…………VCA Florida Veterinary League

Media Marketing Award…………………Treasure and Space Coast Radio

Assistance Dog Team Graduates ……….Mark and Ranger, Pamela and Skye

Everyone enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch and then the agility dog show by the 4-H Dog Masters Club. All the young club members did an excellent job talking about their 4-H involvement and then all showed their dog’s skills during the show.

To wrap-up the afternoon everyone gathered in the Training Center for desserts and more celebration. Devon Williams with Quilt of Valor presented a beautiful custom made quilt to Jim Taylor, US Army (Ret.) and a smaller version to his service dog PiaPia. Shelly Ferger presented well deserved awards. She stated, “Dogs For Life can never say just how much we appreciate our donors and volunteers or how proud we are of our service dog team graduates.”

If you are interested in learning more about Dogs For Life and our service dog training for veterans in Indian River County, please call us at (772) 567-8969 and we will gladly arrange for a tour of our campus, which includes an Off-Leash Dog Park.

More…

Crossover Mission ads two new board members Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Crossover Mission announces the addition of two new members to its Board of Directors. Joining the Board of Directors are John Vanderzee and Steve Hodges.

“Both John and Steve embody the spirit of community and bring talent, energy, and fresh thinking to Crossover Mission,” said Cathy De Schouwer, co-founder and director of Crossover Mission. “We are very fortunate to have them on our team as we strive to make a difference in the lives of the at-risk youth in our community.”

Born and raised in Michigan, John Vanderzee earned an Engineering degree from Princeton. After graduation, he joined the Navy where he was an officer on active duty from 1954-57. More…

McKee Botanical Gardens to host discussion on sea turtles June 2 Reply

On Friday, June 2, Kendra Cope, Indian River County’s Coastal Environmental Specialist and Sea Turtle Coordinator will lead a discussion on sea turtle biology and local impacts on sea turtles, and she will share steps that Indian River County is taking to make our beaches a better habitat for sea turtle nesting. 

Kendra Cope is an Environmental Specialist for the Coastal Engineering Division of Indian River County.  In her role as Indian River County’s Sea Turtle Coordinator, she manages the IRC Sea Turtle Program and its numerous volunteer opportunities, including the nesting, stranding, education and lighting programs.  Kendra received her Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology at the University of Central Florida as part of the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group.  She is also the organizer of the annual Sebastian Lionfish Festival and serves on the Executive Board of the Friends of the Carr Refuge.

The presentation will take place from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm in the Richardson Education Building at McKee Botanical Garden on June 2.  The cost to attend is $10 for McKee members and $12 for non-members.  To register call 772-794-0601. 

Five cars burglarized in central beach area Tuesday night 1

NEWS RELEASE

Our officers located five burglarized vehicles last night (Tuesday), pursuant to a suspicious persons call in the area of Holy Cross Church. All of the vehicles were located on Riomar Drive and appeared to have been rummaged through. Nothing was missing from four of the vehicles, and a key fob was stolen from one of the cars. Our officers were able to get a description for the suspicious persons and their vehicle, and Indian River County Sheriff’s Office was able to make contact with that vehicle and made two arrests. We will update you as IRCSO releases more information.

In the meantime, please check your vehicles and make sure nothing is missing or has been tampered with. As always, please lock your vehicles and do not leave anything inside. Please stay safe and vigilant, and we will keep you updated.

Officer Anna Carden, 395, Vero Beach Police Department

Bob Graham: Lawmakers ignoring ‘will of the people’ on Florida Forever funding Reply

Editor’s note: Indian River Neighborhood Association Chair, Honey Minuse, today sent the following letter to IRNA members addressing the Florida Legislature’s failure to use funds voters approved for addressing Florida water supply issues.

In 2014 voters in Florida approved a statewide amendment to dedicate a source of funding to preserve sensitive lands, a major source of water.  The IRNA supported that referendum which today is still known as the “Water and Land Legacy Amendment”. 

 It is noteworthy that 75% of the voters in Florida approved this Amendment.

 It is equally noteworthy that, for the third consecutive year, the Legislators in Tallahassee have not used those dedicated funds for the intended purpose.  

 Former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham has been particularly alarmed about this. He recently spoke out about it and that interview, sponsored by USF, is accessed by clicking on the link in the following article.  At the conclusion of the article, you may listen to the entire interview.  

 Many of you have questioned what happened to this Amendment.  Hopefully, your questions will be answered by Florida’s former Governor, Bob Graham. 

 This information was sent to us courtesy of the Florida Conservation Coalition.

 Sincerely, Honey Minuse, Chair, IRNA Board of Directors

 

STEVE NEWBORN/HEALTH NEWS FLORIDA

The Florida Legislature has voted to eliminate funding for Florida Forever, the state’s primary land-conservation program.

The only part of Florida Forever that is receiving any money this coming year is $10 million dollars for ranchers to not develop their land.  Since 2001, the state has spent nearly $3 billion to buy more than 700,000 acres of land. Continue reading…

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING

SUMMER ART CLASSES AT THE MUSEUM

Summer is the perfect time for beginning and intermediate students to take an evening art class in the Vero Beach Museum of Art’s Museum Art School. The summer term begins the week of June 5. Register in-person at the Museum during business hours or visit the Museum’s website http://www.verobeachmuseum.org to register. Summer class offerings include Photography 101 (beginners); Yoga at the Museum (all levels); You Can Draw (beginners/intermediate); Drawing in Everyday Life (beginners/intermediate); The Joy of Watercolor (beginners); Oil and Acrylic Abstract Painting (beginners/intermediate); Studio Painting (intermediate/advanced); Acrylic Painting-The Basics and More (beginners/intermediate); Terracotta Masks-Beyond the Clay (beginners); and Summer Clay Studio (all levels). For further information about classes or registration, please call Ellyn Giordano, Museum Art School Registrar at (772) 231-0707, ext. 116. More…

State softball finals on now at Historic Dodgertown Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Semi-Finals today, finals tomorrow at Historic Dodgertown.

The top high school softball teams in the State of Florida will converge onto Historic Dodgertown to compete for the Florida State Championship in each of the nine (9) respective classifications. Regional Finals have concluded around the state to determine which high schools have advanced to the State Softball Finals. This four-day event will include 36 teams competing in semi-final rounds on Wednesday and Friday then championship rounds Thursday and Saturday.

This is the first year of a new three-year agreement with the FHSAA, which is proudly hosted by the Treasure Coast Sports Commission, Historic Dodgertown, Indian River County Parks and Recreation, Indian River County, and St. Lucie West Centennial High School. More…

McKee Botanical Garden accepting submissions Waterlily Photo Contest Reply

NEWS RELEASE

“The Garden” by Krystial Comins

McKee Botanical Garden is currently accepting photo submissions for the 13th Annual Waterlily Photo Contest in conjunction with the Annual Waterlily Celebration to be held on Saturday, June 17 from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm.
The Garden is currently accepting submissions for its annual photo contest through Tuesday, June 13. Photos must be of waterlilies and lotus photographed at McKee Botanical Garden in 2016 or 2017 with a film or digital camera. Participants may submit one photo in each of three style categories: Color, Black and White, and Manipulated. A Youth category is also available for aspiring photographers ages 17 and under. A complete list of rules with the entry form can be found at http://www.mckeegarden.org. Photos will be judged by a panel of judges on Friday, June 16. More…

City Council votes 4-1 to accept FPL’s letter of intent 1

NEWS ANALYSIS

MARK SCHUMANN

The Vero Beach City Council today voted 4-1 to accept in principle a proposal from Florida Power and Light to acquire Vero Electric for $185 million. The deal is projected to net the City $36 million. The likely sale proceeds will fall far short of the $180 million utility activists Glenn Heran and Steven Faherty once claimed would flow to the City from a sale.

A key component in FPL’s offer is a coupling of the proposed full sale with a sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customer base. As a fallback, if the full sale cannot be completed, Vero Beach will be obligated to sell its Indian River Shores customers to FPL for $30 million.

Councilman Richard Winger, after sustaining a long and withering personal attack from Mayor Laura Loss, raised concerns about committing to the partial sale at $30 million. Last year, a team of utility experts concluded a partial sale as much less than $42 million would lead to higher rates for the remaining customers. As a candidate for re-election, former City Councilman Randy Old said agreeing to a partial sale at $30 million would be a breach of a Council member’s fiduciary responsibility to the City and to the people of Vero Beach. More…

Letter: Selling Vero Electric is Un-American 2

Editor’s note: The following letter received by InsideVero yesterday was also sent to City Council of Vero Beach, Town Council of Indian River Shores and Board of County Commissioners, Indian River County.

“I believe in municipal ownership of all public service monopolies… because if you do not own them, they will in time own you. They will rule your politics, corrupt your institutions and finally destroy your liberties!” – Thomas L. Johnson, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, 1908

 

Selling Vero Electric to FPL is Un-American!

Please acknowledge about Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) upcoming multiple rate increases, surcharges and more increase(s) and surcharge(s) to come later.

Please acknowledge about FPL’s SurgeShield program is ripping off their customers. Vero Electric already have surge protections in all places and does not charge.

Please acknowledge about local media blackout (Indian River Press Journal/TCPalm and 32963/VeroNews) on FPL’s multiple rate increases and surcharges. InsideVero and out of town newspapers reported the increases.

Please acknowledge about Bob Brunjes, Indian River Press Journal/TCPalm publisher is married to Amy Brunjes, FPL executive.

Please acknowledge the current rates between Vero Electric and FPL is now less than 8% – greatly reduced from 34% in 2009. More…

Moss using personal email account for official City business Reply

For more than a week, Mayor Moss delayed turning over to the City Clerk’s Office official communication received on her personal email account

 

MARK SCHUMANN

Documents requested May 2 but not released until May 10 reveal that Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss has used her personal email account to conduct official City business.  The use of her private email address for City business would not necessarily raise questions, except that Moss has also delayed providing those documents to the City Clerk’s office. Below are just two of a number of emails Moss received on her personal email account from attorney’s with the law firm of Carlton Fields.

At the May 2 City Council meeting, Moss claimed City staff has been conducting “a thorough financial review” of the proposed sale of Vero Electric. None of the documents release by the City late last week suggest any such review has taken place. Clearly, there are only two possibilities. Either Moss is misleading the public about what review, if any, has taken place, or she and/or City Staff are withholding documents that are the subject of several public records requests.

Last summer, in her capacity as Chair of the Utilities Commission Moss wrote the Chair of the Florida Public Service Commission, but never provided the City Clerk’s Office with a copy of the correspondence. Moss’s letter to the PSC only came to light when it was made public by PSC staff.

 

Press Journal columnist misstates electric rate comparison Reply

The Indian River County Commission assesses a 6% franchise fee on the electric bills of country residents who are customers of Vero Electric, and of FPL. Similarly, If an when the become customers of Vero Electric residents and businesses within the city will also pay a 6% franchise fee, yielding an effective FPL rate of $108.69, compared to Vero Beach’s current rate of $116.08. The difference between the two rates is 6.4%, not 20%, as many continue to claim.

COMMENTARY

“Reisman and his colleagues at Treasure Coast Newspapers persist in presenting the rate differential between Vero Electric and FPL in a way that shows how much more FPL customers would pay, if they switched to Vero Electric. This is a misleading and meaningless comparison. The relevant percentage is the savings Vero Electric customers could expect by switching to FPL. At 1000 kilowatt hours, that number is 8.7% for county customers and 6.3% for customers within the city. At 1200 kilowatt hours, based on today’s rates, the savings would be 14.3% for county customers and 9.1% for customers within the city.” 

MARK SCHUMANN

For years, in comparing rates between Vero Electric and Florida Power and Light, the FPL-friendly Press Journal has followed FPL’s lead in quoting 1000 kilowatt hour rates.  Probably because this measure now yields the least favorable comparison from FPL’s perspective, the Press Journal is quoting rates at 1,200 kilowatt hours.

On the mainland, inside and outside the city limits, some 90 percent of Vero Electric’s residential customers use an average of less than 1000 kilowatt hours per month. Based on the most recent information available from FPL and the City, at 1000 kilowatt hours, the rate differential between the two utilities is 8.7 percent, $116.08 for Vero Electric and $102.64 for FPL. Reisman seems not to want to use these numbers, probably because he has for the last 7 years been telling his readers they could save 25 percent or more, if the City would only sell its electric system to FPL. In fact, the FPL-friendly Press Journal has played key role in leading the public to embrace an exaggerated sense of the benefits of the proposed power sale.

Not only has Reisman taken to using a different rate level for comparison, he misstates the delta. As of March, FPL’s rate for 1200 kilowatts of residential power was $122.40. Vero Beach’s rate was $142.87.  The difference between those two rates is 14.3 percent, not 17 percent, as Reisman claimed when he wrote, “That’s about 17 percent more than FPL rates.” The simple, undeniable, indisputable fact is that at 1200 kilowatt hours customers of FPL are paying 14.3 percent less than customers of Vero Electric, not 17%. More…

In the face of shifting facts, will opinions on power sale remain unchanged? 6

Vero Beach FPL* Differential
March, 2017 116.08 105.98 8.7%
October, 2016 116.08 94.63 18.5%
November, 2013 130.93 98.29 24.9%
June, 2009 158.82 104.37 34.3%
COMMENTARY

“If the residents of Vero Beach who continue to support the power sale believe the deal will lead to significantly lower electric rates, they are going to be disappointed. If they think the move will not result in higher taxes, cuts in services, and major setbacks for the City, they are sorely misguided.”

“Sponsored and supported by FPL, aided by a power-hungry County Commission, and advised by Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, what Howle, Moss and Sykes most lack is loyalty to the City and to the people of Vero Beach. Bathed in blissful ignorance, and supported by outside interests, they are prepared to drive the City to the brink of financial disaster.”

MARK SCHUMANN

In 2009, utility activists Glenn Heran and Steven Faherty began making presentations throughout the community to build support for the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light. At the time, the rate differential between the two utilities was 34.3%. Not only did Heran and Faherty promise impressive savings on electric bills, they assured everyone the sale would net the City more than $180 million. The money, they reasoned, could be invested, with the earnings used to make up for the $7 million that is annually transferred from the electric fund to the General Fund. That money helps pay for municipal services, such as police protection, recreation programs, life guards and parks maintenance.

It has been eight years since the two utility activists, encouraged and aided by FPL, began persuading the public of the supposed benefits of selling Vero Beach’s electric utility. Over the past eight years much has changed. FPL’s rates have risen, but more importantly Vero Electric’s rates have continued to decline. As a result, customers of Vero Electric stand to save far, far less than originally promised. Based on information available through the Florida Municipal Electric Association, for Vero Beach residents, the effective rate differential is now 8.7%. According to rate information quoted on FPL’s website, the differential is just 6.3%. (According the rates currently being quoted by FPL on its website, the after residential customers using 1000 kWh per month is paying $102.64, this is $2.66 more than the 1000 kWh rate listed on the FMEA website. The difference may have to do with peaking charges, but suffice to say FPL’s rate structure is complicated.) More…

Candidate Randy Old releases statement on proposed power sale 3

Editor’s note: Former Vero Beach City Councilman Randy Old will be running again for a seat on the Council this coming November. Old today released a statement supporting the sale of Vero Electric on the terms recently proposed by FPL.  

FPL’s offer to buy the full utility system is coupled it with agreement to a partial sale of the City’s Indian River Shores customers for $30 million. If the board of the Florida Municipal Power Agency does not approve the deal, or if for any other reason it cannot be completed, Vero Beach will be obligated to sell its Shores customers and infrastructure to FPL for $30 million.

While running for re-election last fall, Old said agreeing to sell the Shores portion of Vero Electric for $30 million would have been a violation of his fiduciary responsibility to the City and to the people of Vero Beach. The statement Old released today does not make clear whether he now supports a partial sale at $30 million, though he did indicates some points in FPL’s proposal may “need to be altered or negotiated.”

Florida Power and Light Makes Offer to City Electric Business

Randy Old

FPL’s offer to the City to buy the entire electric business was announced yesterday. Simply put, FPL is offering to pay $185 million leaving the City with $37 million in cash after the City pays to exit its contracts with FMPA ($108) and OUC ($20), and pays off electric business debt ($20). This should be accepted by the City Council.

The agreements are long and detailed, and there may be some issues that need to be altered or negotiated, but most seem straight forward and reasonable. There are some key issues included. FMPA’s board must unanimously approve the transaction. One City voting against the sale could stop it. I believe that FMPA will approve the transaction and the full sale will be achieved. However, the other key point is, that if the full sale does not go through then, there is a commitment to sell the Indian River Shores portion of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light.

FMPA reduced its price for Vero to exit its obligations from over $350 million to $108 million, or a 70% reduction. This reduction which happened in the fall, allowed the transaction to become viable. FPL’s past offer was similar to this in size but included our existing plant and other issues not appropriate in this offer. However, had past City Councils agreed to take FLP’s offer of $185 million, and had to pay $350 million to get out of FMPA, plus pay OUC $20 million to exit its contract, and repay its debt of $20 million, the City would have had a net loss on the transaction of $205 million ( +$185 – $350 -$20-$20 = – $205). An impossibility. With the reduced cost to exit FMPA, the transaction is not only possible but attractive.

FMPA changed its mind, was is the new CEO, was is the amount of legislative pressure in Tallahassee, or just a change of heart. But it doesn’t really matter; this is a reasonable transaction that should be accepted.

Next steps, be sure the city uses the proceeds of the sale wisely to minimize the adverse effect on Vero’s finances and its taxpayers. Also, it goes without saying, that it will be a huge relief to the community to have this issue not dominate and divide the city, as it has for the past several years.

Randy Old

Solari’s fingerprints all over deceptive email newsletter 2

COMMENTARY

In the name of liberty, Solari proposes taking from the people of Vero Beach the freedom to make their own decisions about development restrictions, protections against short terms rentals, and choices about levels of service from police protection to recreation programs.

Make no mistake about it, the current push to sell Vero Electric is not about lower electric rates. Underlying all the arguments made by Solari and his fellow County Commissioners is a darker motivation to force the City of Vero Beach into disincorporation. 

MARK SCHUMANN

An extreme limited government Libertarian masquerading as a conservative, Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari is a master of deception.

A local “group” calling itself “American Conservatism” today sent out an email newsletter full of the exact kind of misinformation that has so confused in many people’s minds the real costs and benefits of the proposed sale of Vero Electric. Though no names of leaders or officers are presented in the newsletter, it gives at the organization’s address the home address of Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari.

Solari, to be sure, embraces and typifies, not conservatism, but Libertarian, limited-government extremism.   What the Commissioner is really after, of course, is consolidated local government. Solari, who feeds at the public troff, hates government in any and all forms. He hopes and expects the sale of Vero Electric will lead to a fiscal crisis that will force the City to then sell its well-run and profitable water and sewer utility to the County. Solari, who is informally directing Vero Beach City Council members Harry Howle and Lange Sykes, also hopes for the consolidation of other public services, and eventually the absorption of the City into the County in a unified local government.

In the name of liberty, Solari proposes taking from the people of Vero Beach the freedom to make their own decisions about development restrictions, protections against short terms rentals, and choices about levels of service from police protection to recreation programs.

Make no mistake about it, the current push to sell Vero Electric is not about lower electric rates. Underlying all the arguments made by Solari and his fellow County Commissioners is a darker motivation to force the City of Vero Beach into disincorporation.

Solari’s propaganda piece included the following misleading statement. “One result of City service is that for the past 10 years COVB ratepayers have been paying some 20% to 30% more for electricity than private sector customers have been paying –  paying roughly an extra $200 million that could have remained in the community helping residents lead a better life.”

What Solari was careful not to mention is that for Vero Beach residents the effective rate differential between Vero Electric and Florida Power and Light is now down to less than 7%, to the 20% 30% he claims.

Further attempting to mislead the public, Solari’s newsletter claimed that over the next 10 years, the customers of Vero Electric will pay $200 million more than if they were customers of FPL.  Given the narrowed and continually narrowing gap between the rates of FPL and Vero Electric, the claim is preposterous.

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

COMMENTARY

“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.” 

MARK SCHUMANN

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…

Meter running of City’s legal bills – $49,498.25 for first month 3

MARK SCHUMANN

Florida Power and Light officials yesterday submitted a letter of intent containing proposed terms for the sale of Vero Electric.  Today, attorneys with the law firm of Carlton Fields, all of whom charge $480 per hour, today submitted an invoice to the City totaling $48,498.25 for work done through the end of March in helping preparing and review FPL’s offer.

Next Tuesday, the Council is to consider, and will likely vote to accept, FPL’s proposed terms. At that point the expensive work of hammering out a formal contract will begin. The previous purchase and sale agreement between Vero Beach and FPL expired at the end of last year. The City’s outside counsel charged more than $1 million to write that now defunct contract.

Dereliction of Duty: Council members continue to allow Mayor Moss to exercise monarchial powers 2

Mayor Laura Moss, who recently described herself at the “queen” of Vero Beach, continues to mistake the ceremonial role of mayor with that of a chief executive officer. Moss recently refused to respond to public records request for copies of notes she took during meetings and telephone calls with representatives of Florida Power and Light. As of April 28, Moss also had in her possession a draft of FPL’s letter of intent to acquire Vero Electric. Moss was asked on May 2 to provide the documents as a part of the public record. She delayed releasing them until May 10.

Dear Editor:

I read with interest your article with regard to Vero Beach mayor Laura Moss and her letter titled “Dereliction of Duty.”  In this letter she shifts blame to the City Attorney for her wrongful and illegal attacks against citizens who express differing opinions.   

Having a police officer take any citizen into custody and removed from a public meeting and further issuing orders banning citizens from meetings is in short an attack on our fundamental freedom of speech. 

Her analogies that differing opinions are akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater are equally absurd. And her new attempt to blame the city attorney for not controlling her is yet another absurdity. Her allegation of his “Dereliction of Duty” is actionable. You can’t make false allegations against those under your command without consequences. And now the public record shows that mayor making formal allegations against the city attorney which become part of his job history.  If you were in the hiring position for a city attorney would you hire an attorney who has been accused by his mayor of not doing his job?

In summary, for city council members to allow or condone by inaction her behavior is the real “dereliction of duty.”  The other council members have an obligation to the taxpaying citizens to remove such a person from a seat of power.

Brian Heady

See: In the hot seat, Moss seeks to shift blame

Today, Coment provided the following response to Moss:

FPL ties partial sale to full sale, wants 99-year lease on City property 2

As a condition of its offer, FPL is asking to lease a portion of the power plant site for 99 years. The previous purchase and sale agreement between the City and FPL, which expired Dec. 31, 2016, called for the company to lease the entire power plant site for just 5 years.

NEWS ANALYSIS

To sell Vero Electric on the terms proposed by FPL amounts to malicious obedience, for the sale many people think they want will not lead to the results they are expecting. Howle, Moss and Sykes know this, but they seemed determined to press ahead anyway. Quite simply, they do not represent the interests of the people of Vero Beach. Like so much of the false and misleading political advertising that has poisoned recent municipal elections, Howle, Moss and Sykes are bought and paid for by FPL.

MARK SCHUMANN

Florida Power and Light today unveiled an offer to acquire Vero Electric in a deal the company says is worth $185 million.

Of the $185 million, $108 million would be paid to the Florida Municipal Power Agency, $20 million to the Orlando Utilities Commission and $20.4 million would to go retire debt on the City’s electric utility. Of the remaining $36.6 million, $6.6 million would partially underwrite pension obligations to existing employees of Vero Electric. Another $10 million is earmarked as rent on City land FPL proposes to lease for 99 years, leaving the City with net proceeds of $20 million on the deal.

To put FPL’s offer in some historical context, in 2008 and 2009, when utility activists Glenn Heran and Steven Faherty first began building support of the power sale they projected the City would net, not $20 million, but closer to $180 million. Interest earnings on the sale proceeds, Heran and Faherty said, would offset the loss of more than $6 million in annual earnings off the utility. Without that annual transfer from the electric fund to the General Fund the City will need to raise taxes and/or cut services. When support first began to build for the sale, the rates differential between Vero Electric and FPL was some 30%. Today, the effective differential is closer to 7%. More…

Shores sells remaining parcel of public beachfront property at fire-sale price Reply

The 5.4 acre parcel of oceanfront property was first sold by the Schlitt family to the County at a discounted price. At the time, the understanding was that the land would be preserved for public use. The Town of Indian River Shores acquired the property in a land swap with the County, and has now sold it to a developer for just 57% of its appraised value.

Editor’s note: Over the past two years, the Indian River Shores Town Council ran up more than $1,000,000 in legals bills on a lawsuit against Vero Beach which the Town eventually dismissed without prejudice. Wanting to avid raising taxes, or to deplete reserves, and looking to pay down pension obligations, the Town Council decided to sell the community’s only remaining parcel of publicly owned beachfront property. Last Saturday, the 5.4 acres of oceanfront land was auctioned off, and Monday the Town Council voted 3-2 to accept the top bid of $4.4 million, just 57% of the land’s appraised value of $7.7 million

JANET BAGLEY/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS

INDIAN RIVER SHORES — It’s not what the Town Council had hoped to get for the publicly owned beachfront property, but in the end, the council on Monday decided to accept a $4.4 million bid and get the land off its hands. Continue reading…