Chamber announces 2018 officers and Board Reply

NEWS RELEASE

The Indian River County Chamber of Commerce has announced its new 2018 Board of Directors and officers. The new Board assumes their duties on October 1st, the beginning of the Chamber’s new fiscal year.

Robert Paugh, Bill Bryant & Associates will serve as Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. Mr. Paugh remarked that “The Chamber is the ‘go to’ resource for our business community and has a long legacy of accomplishments. Over many decades, our Chamber partnerships, volunteers and staff have formed a respected and collaborative business organization. I am proud to be able to serve in the coming year as its Chairman.”

Ross Cotherman, Rehmann will serve as Vice Chairman and Michael Kissner, an attorney with Collins, Brown, Barkett, Garavaglia & Lawn Chartered will serve as the Chamber Treasurer. Jason Odom, Gould Cooksey Fennell, P.A. will serve as the Chamber’s General Counsel. More…

‘Team Marine’ leading United Way campaign Reply

 

NEWS RELEASE 

“Mariner Pete doesn’t say much, but he agrees that Marine Bank & Trust is all in for the 2017-2018 United Way Campaign,” explained Bill Penny, President and CEO of Marine Bank and Trust. “We want to maintain the history of success in fundraising, community awareness and solving community problems that United Way of Indian River County has sustained over the years.

“We’re thrilled to have Team Marine leading the way for our campaign this year,” commented Michael Kint, CEO, United Way of Indian River County.

The local United Way recruits Co-Chairs to lead a host of campaign volunteers studying past campaigns, preparing strategies, and doing the groundwork needed to raise critical funds for human services in Indian River County. “We’ve raised around $3 million the last few years and though we are extremely careful with those funds, it doesn’t take long to spend them on community needs,” said Kint.  More…

Cultural Calendar Reply

NOTICE: CELEBRATE THE ARTS FESTIVAL CANCELLED

The Cultural Council of Indian River County has cancelled the Celebrate the Arts Festival originally scheduled for Saturday, September 23, due to the effects of Hurricane Irma on the Riverside Park venue. 

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 22

ART OF NETWORKING THIS FRIDAY

The Art of Networking will be held on Friday evening, September 22, 5:00 – 7:00 pm at Riverside Theatre.  During this reception, the 2017-2018 Arts & Cultural Guide will be introduced and made available to the public.  We encourage all to attend and celebrate this upcoming season of cultural events and opportunities.   Admission is free for Cultural Council members and $5 for non members.  RSVP to 772-770-4857.

AT RIVERSIDE THEATRE September 22 & 23

Comedy Zone Experience: Shows at 7:30 and 9:30 pm with comedians  Carl “Cee-Jay” Jones and James Yon.  Come Hungry! Enjoy fire-grilled sandwiches and cold cocktails!

Live in the Loop: Free Outdoor Concerts beginning at 6 pm with Bobby Owen Band (Variety, Classic Rock) on Friday and The Rocket City Live (Classic Soul Rock) on Saturday.  Visit RiversideTheatre.com.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

“DOGTOBERFEST” ON SATURDAY

The Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County invites the public to celebrate “Dogtoberfest” on Saturday, September 23,  from 12:30  to 4:30 pm. Admission is free and will be held at the Humane Society, 6230 77th Street in Vero Beach.  “Dogtoberfest” is a family-friendly festival featuring music, food, beer, hay-rides, a kids zone, dog costume contest and a fun canine lure course. Guests may bring their well-behaved dogs on a leash. Visitors can have fun outdoors and then come inside the shelter to visit with dogs, cats and other animals who available for adoption.

More…

United Against Poverty offers a hand up for Hurricane Irma survivors Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Thousands of low-income families throughout the Treasure Coast are without food due to power outages in the area. To meet the needs of the community and continue to help vulnerable families, United Against Poverty’s Product Partners have committed, for immediate delivery, 25 truckloads of food to provide relief. Each truckload can feed 1,200 families.

“Many of our neighbors have been adversely affected by Hurricane Irma. Thousands of working poor families have lost food and income due to businesses being shut down,” explained Austin Hunt, CEO/Founder, United Against Poverty. “Let’s step up together and provide a hand up. Your donation is needed now more than ever. If you don’t have the means to give financially, we also need volunteers.” More…

Treasure Coast Food Bank providing for critical needs in hurricane recovery effort Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Treasure Coast Food Bank is assisting with recovery efforts across its four-county service area hit by some of the state’s earliest flooding when feeder bands from Hurricane Irma swamped the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County. In pockets of the community, thousands remain displaced because of flooding, and nearly half of Okeechobee County still has no electricity

On Thursday, the food bank delivered ready-to-eat meals, water and ice to the Percy Peek Gym in Fort Pierce where families from the Sabal Chase Apartments are staying after feeder bands from the hurricane flooded their apartments.

Treasure Coast Food Bank also has delivered ice and water to hundreds of families in the rural Prairie and Fort Drum communities in Okeechobee County, and also provided ice, water, pre-packaged meals, and other supplies to dairy farmers in Okeechobee, Highlands and Glades counties. More…

Humane Society cancels Sept. 23rd Dogtoberfest event Reply

NEWS RELEASE

The Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County (HSVB) was planning on holding the first annual Dogtoberfest event on the Humane Society’s beautiful 38-acre campus on 77th Street in Vero Beach south of the Indian River Fairgrounds but Hurricane Irma had other plans.  The Shelter has been forced to cancel the event scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd.

During the hurricane, the Humane Society sheltered 349 animals and their caretakers for three days and cared for an array of dogs, cats, gerbils, bunnies, birds and livestock throughout the storm. In addition to feeding and sheltering the animals, HSVB staff and volunteers worked round the clock to administer to special needs pets in need of medication and specialized care. Included in the array of animals staying at the Shelter during the storm were animals of first responders. HSVB also co-organized and managed the county’s only pet-friendly shelter at Liberty Magnet School.

The entire supply of animal crates was depleted in the days leading up to the storm as HSVB staff gave away crates to house animals at the pet friendly shelter and others in need of crates. Special stackable crates are needed to replenish the supply. If you’d like to assist the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County in rebuilding their supply of crates and other storm preparedness items, please visit www.hsvb.org/ways-to-donate

Historic Dodgertown is home base to crews assisting with Hurricane Irma restoration and clean-up Reply

 NEWS RELEASE

Nearly 60 utility workers and tree crew specialists are being temporarily housed and nearly 140 workers are being fed at Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida as Indian River County homes and businesses recover from Hurricane Irma’s damage. The men are staying in the hotel villa rooms and are being fed a hot breakfast and dinner each day in the dining room, and box lunches are provided for all.

Many of the crews were staged at Historic Dodgertown before the hurricane made land, ensuring quick service and response as soon as it was safe to get to work. 

The crews hail from Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and even from Vero Beach. The mutual aid assistance is a welcome sight for the community. More…

Partial sale of electric system could be a full disaster for the people of Vero Beach Reply

“Old, and others who once had serious questions about opening the door to higher rates and higher taxes, now seem to have concluded that a partial sale would be the lesser of two evils. The even less attractive alternative, they seem to believe, is to stand up for what is best for the residents of the City and the remaining customers of Vero Electric, for doing so will likely result in Indian River Shores monied interests and FPL continuing to poison politics in Vero Beach.”

Peter Gorry

Editor’s note:  In the summer of 2016, the Vero Beach City Council voted 3-2 to reject Florida Power & Light’s $30 million offer to acquire Vero Electric’s 3500 customers and transmission and distribution lines in Indian River Shores. At the time, Councilmen Randy Old, Richard Winger and Tony Young argued the partitioning of Vero Electric for $30 million would lead to higher taxes for the residents of Vero Beach and higher rates for the remaining customers of the City’s electric system. (Harry Howle and Pilar Turner supported the deal.)

Citing the work of independent consultants, Old, Winger and Young  concluded it would take closer to $45 million to ensure the carving up of Vero Electric would not negatively impact the City, its residents and electric customers. (At the time, Old said approving the partial sale at $30 million would be constitute a breach of a council member’s fiduciary responsibility to the City and to the people of Vero Beach. Old, and others who once had serious questions about opening the door to higher rates and higher taxes, now seem to have concluded that a partial sale would be the lesser of two evils. The even less attractive alternative, they seem to believe, is to stand up for what is best for the residents of the City and the remaining customers of Vero Electric, for doing so will likely result in Indian River Shores monied interests and FPL continuing to poison politics in Vero Beach. More…

Who will benefit from electric sale? Certainly not the people of Vero Beach! 1

Editor’s note: Vice-Mayor Harry Howle recently asserted that the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light will leave the city in a “damn good” position. The following analysis, almost surely beyond Howle attention span, if not over his head, confirms that he, and all those now supporting the sale of Vero Electric, are dead wrong about the supposed financial benefits of the deal. In truth, the sale of Vero Electric will seriously damage the City financially, while yielding only marginal of benefits to the customers of Vero Electric. 

Even more damaging that a sale of the full system would be a partial sale, in which the Indian River Shores portion of the system would be carved off and sold to FPL. Tomorrow, InsideVero will publish an analysis of the likely negative impacts of a so-called partial sale.

“Netting the lost fund transfers, franchise fee and net interest income effects, the resulting $4.1MM in net reduction in City revenues may be financed by a combination of (1) increased water utility rates, (2) reduction of General Fund service levels, or (3) increase in ad valorem taxes. (Sale of city assets is not included as a potential revenue source, as suggested, because by definition of prudent financial management practice, non-recurring gains or revenues are never used to fund recurring expense.)”

LEXINGTON

Much adoo about…

Political Analysis

The sale of City of Vero Beach Electric is, and has been for nearly a generation the bitter Third Rail of local politics. If one good things comes from the Full Sale, it will be the end of the poisonous political atmosphere perpetuated in the name of this issue.

Who Benefits?

Harry Howle – A single-issue councilman giving unquestioning support to all things FPL.

In the meantime, who benefits from this awful business?

Political careers and organizations and at least one highly-profitable media platform been built on flogging the electric utility.

So it’s much adoo about the activists, their political allies and their dedicated media outlet.

Second, Indian River Shores and South Beach customers will benefit. It is acknowledged that they provide a disproportionate share of the profits reaped by the electric utility. Moreover, it is acknowledged that they cannot vote for the governing body that controls electric policy and rates. These circumstances led a group of them to pool their money to buy an election, and install a City Council that performs to their will.

Their mass-deployment of election capital was greatly magnified by the constant barrage of electioneering propaganda issued from their captive “news” outlet.

It used to be “how you played the game.” Today, the Big Egos get their way by any means. Congratulations – you ‘won.’

Undoubtedly, FPL benefits. They will receive an enormously profitable enterprise.

Lange Sykes – Received 90% of his campaign contributions from Indian River Shores residents.

Given the mark-to-market equity valuation of $64 million as shown below, the system produces about $13.5 in operating cash flow, against which it must spend about $4.0 million to sustain capital investments, leaving $8.5 million in free cash flow.

That’s a return on equity for the City of Vero Beach Electric of 13.3%.

FPL’s regulated return on equity is only 9.6% – 11.6%; Duke Energy earns 6%. Southern Company 11%.

And that’s before the axe comes out to chop down local resources, cut capital spending, cut staff, cut customer service and cut local response. From a reduced cost base–and with political leverage in Tallahassee to enforce continually rising rates, the FPL acquisition will be a goldmine for FPL.

After all, they have put up with – instigated – all the political nonsense and have stuck with it for all these years for a reason – profit.

Corruption

Figure 11 – Leona Helmsley, wealthy New York real estate magnate, famously observed that “only the little people pay taxes.” She became known as the “Queen of Mean.”

Laura Moss – Self-described “Queen of Vero Beach.”

But what’s in it for the We the “Little People” of Vero Beach? Fifty cents a month off your electric bill? A 43% hike in your property tax bill? Is that it—this is all we get?

Unfortunately, no. There’s more: We get corruption.

The Mayor, along with her two council trustys on the City Council, rolled into office on a tidal-wave of special interest money from, you guessed it, FPL.

When asked by a quizzical child, “what is a mayor?” the mayor intuitively responded that it’s “kind of like being Queen.” This moment of honest reflection—shared between a grown-up and an innocent—is apocryphal in explaining the Mayor’s self-image, her imperious style and authoritarian conduct.

Buying an election and a city council to benefit special and sectional interests is extraordinarily bad behavior for those otherwise up-standing citizens of Indian River Shores that donated to “Operation Flip Switch.” More…

Time To Pass the Comprehensive Plan 5

COMMENTARY

RICHARD WINGER/VERO BEACH CITY COUNCILMAN

Richard Winger

The conspiracy theorists are at it again, and this time they were joined by Vero Beach’s Mayor Moss. The occasion was a special call City Council meeting to address the updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Comp Plan). If you were to believe these individuals, the Plan is really a hidden plot to destroy all that we hold special in our City.

All local governments in Florida are required to have Comprehensive Land Use Plans. And they must be updated, and sent to the State for review. This update is what Staff and the Planning and Zoning Board have worked on intensively for over a year, A draft is ready for Council to modify or approve and transmit to the State for their review. The transmittal to the State is years overdue, yet a 3 vote majority voted to postpone it even further. More…

Labor Day Beach Bash tournament at Historic Dodgertown to welcome youth baseball teams from across Florida Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Youth travel ball teams from across Florida, plus one team from Georgia, will spend their Labor Day weekend at Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida playing baseball as well as benefitting from Vero Beach dining, shopping and recreation with their families and teammates.

The Labor Day Beach Bash tournament will feature games Saturday thru Monday in the 10U-16U age brackets, with games taking place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The public is welcome to watch. Daily admission is only $5 per person and children 7-and-under are free.

Historic Dodgertown tournaments offer up-and-coming baseball players and their families an experience not found elsewhere. More…

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

MARK SCHUMANN

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…

Cultural Calendar Reply

ONGOING

This September marks the 30th anniversary of Library Card Signup Month—a time when the American Library Association (ALA) joins public libraries nationwide to highlight the value of a library card.  During Library Card Sign-up Month any County resident of any age who signs up for a library card at the North Indian River County Library in Sebastian will be entered in a drawing for a gift card to Walmart or Paradise Ice Cream shop.  Indian River County Library cards are free to County residents – no purchase is necessary. The drawing will take place on Monday, October 2nd, at 10 a.m. and winners will be notified by phone, e-mail, or mail.  This local campaign is sponsored by the Friends of the North Indian River County Library.  The North Indian River County Library is located at 1001 Sebastian Boulevard in Sebastian.  For more information call the Library at 772 589-1355 or visit the Friends’ website at www.friendsncl.org.

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 1

First Friday Gallery Stroll

The First Friday Gallery Stroll around and along 14th Avenue  in downtown Vero Beach will be held on Friday, September 1 from 5 to 8 pm.  Here’s a preview of the exhibits:  Gallery 14 presents Colors of Summer 3:  New Work and Familiar Favorites by owner/artists (open this month on stroll night only)  Image at left: Mates by Barbara Landry.   Artists Guild Gallery features new works by resident artists.  Main Street Vero Beach presents guest artist, Ray Holmes’ Floribbean Fun Fish.  His fish are painted acrylic over fiberglass with his style of art – a fusion of the Caribbean Islands and Florida arts (at right).  Flametree Clay Art Gallery “Heard it through the Grapevine” will feature wine goblets, bottle chillers, cheese/cracker platters, grape leaf plates…anything to do with wine and wine tasting along with tasty treats by Wild Thyme Catering.

New Exhibit Opens at Foyer Gallery of Art

The Foyer Gallery of Art, located at the Emerson Center, 1590 27th Avenue, Vero Beach, will be having an Exhibition of oil paintings created by May Brandt, a well known local artist and plein air painter. Her Exhibit will begin on September 1st and run until October 31st.  Mark your calendar for a “Meet the Artist” event will take place on Thursday, October 12th in the Gallery from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.  Please visit the Foyer Gallery is from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm from Monday through Friday and on Sundays from 10:00 am to Noon.  More…

United Way calls for ‘Day of Caring” registrations Reply

Publix employees before going to work on Day of Caring.

NEWS RELEASE 

United Way’s Day of Caring is reaching deeper into the community to serve not only nonprofit agencies, but school communities, churches, and neighborhoods with special needs. Projects have been identified and now it’s time for individuals, families, and teams to register their intent to come out on Saturday, October 14, from 8am to noon. More…

Cancer Society announces second annual “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign Reply

Peter OBryan Tim Girard Jonathan Haride Cheif David Currey Photo by Scott Finney

NEWS RELEASE

DAVID MOSIER 

 In its second year in Indian River County, 17 prominent area men have taken a stand against breast cancer by supporting the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Indian River through participation in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign.

The 2017 “Real Men” of Indian River County were revealed during the band break at Sunset Saturday Night at Humiston Park on August 12. Our Real Men are: More…

The next battle: ownership of Vero Beach’s water and sewer utility Reply

COMMENTARY
Related story: City’s water and sewer utility a vital asset

MARK SCHUMANN

In his most recent “Utility Update” newsletter, utility activist Stephen Faherty signaled what many already suspect. Once a new contract for the sale of Vero Electric to FPL is signed, the next move by local limited government extremists will be to persuade the people of Vero Beach their is something wrong with owning a water and sewer utility that returns some $1 million a year to the General Fund to help pay for basic municipal services.

Faherty wrote, “After the end of the year, it would be good for the City to ask the County to dust off the County’s past offer to buy the City’s WSI system which included connecting the City WSI plant on the 3rd corner to the County’s WSI system (cost would be about $35 M to move the WSI plant from the Lagoon if I recall correctly from prior City estimates) and then clearing the 3rd corner for City use.”

Several year ago, the County made an offer of approximately $20 million to buy Vero Beach’s profitable and well-run water and sewer utility. Though the County tried to package its bargain-basement offer as a magnanimous attempt to rescue Vero Beach, the truth is that the County very much needs Vero Beach’s water and sewer customer base to make its own over-built system more viable.

On the other side of the table, the City does not exactly need the County, or it’s insultingly low offer. Vero Beach’s rates and service are at least comparable to the County’s, and the City’s system, by all reasonable measures, is well run. (I know a couple who own property in the City and the County. Their dog will drink City water without hesitation, but does not much like County water. Personally, I’ll trust one dog’s taste preferences over all the experts the County might hire.)

More…

Riverside Theatre to host ‘Totally Awesome 80’s Party’ Reply

Reserve a table now at Riverside Theatre’s “Totally Awesome 80’s Night” performances of “Howl at the Moon” on Labor Day Weekend! Dine, dance and sing-along to songs from the 80’s that you request from our amazing musicians! Enjoy Air Guitar and 80’s dress attire contests for a chance to win some “rad” prizes! Plus drink specials and other surprises from the 80’s.

Party admission tickets $16-22, or…

Purchase in advance and save with an “80’s Night” package for just $30 per person you’ll get a: show ticket, fire-grilled sandwich, cocktail or beverage of choice, and dessert. 

INFO – BUY TICKETS

Food Bank planning 24-hour ‘Pack the House” event Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Louise Warren

Join Treasure Coast Food Bank for Pack The House, a 24-hour sorting and packing event to help fight hunger. From noon on Friday, Sept. 8 until noon on Saturday, Sept. 9, hundreds of volunteers will help sort and pack enough food for more than 200,000 meals at Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Fort Pierce headquarters, located at 401 Angle Road in Fort Pierce.

During the event, volunteers enjoy music, karaoke, midnight Zumba, and great food donated by popular area restaurants. Pack the House is part of Hunger Action Month, when the nation’s food banks encourage everyone to help end hunger. Nearly 100,000 individuals on the Treasure Coast struggle with hunger each week.

Gather friends, family and co-workers and help make a difference – because nothing runs on empty. Sign up to volunteer during one of the 3-hour shifts at stophunger.org/volunteer. Sponsor opportunities also are available. To learn more, visit stophunger.org/ham2017 or email HAM@tcfoodbank.org.

Fields joins VNA board Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Lundy Fields

The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) welcomes Lundy Fields to their VNA of the Treasure Coast board of directors. Managing Director of My Health Solutions (UK) Ltd., and CEO at Fields Consulting, LLC., he has served as president of MöInlycke Health Care and Novartis. Prior to those roles, Fields was manager of financial planning and analysis at Pepsico, Inc. 

“We are so fortunate to have Lundy join our board,” said VNA of the Treasure Coast Board Chairman, Sue Tompkins. “His professional background and passion to become a “healthcare champion” will benefit our boards, staff, volunteers and donors for years to come!”

Earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, Fields went on to achieve a Master’s of Business degree in Finance Concentration from the University of South Carolina. In his time at Novartis he served in several leadership roles such as manager of business analysis, brand manager, director of trade marketing, general manager of optics for the United Kingdom and Ireland and was president of the global business unit. He then went on to serve as president of MöInlycke Health Care from 2004 – 2012.  More…

Camp Haven receives unexpected gifts Reply

Left to right: Barbara McBain, Kevin Johnson, Cynthia D’Amico, and Camp Haven Executive Director Lalita Janke

NEWS RELEASE

 Camp Haven’s Executive Director, Lalita Janke, was coming in from walking Camp Haven’s unofficial mascot and therapy dog, Rocky, a Goldendoodle, just in time to meet Cynthia D’Amico. She and her sister Barbara McBain were dropping off a second car load of wonderful, washed and ironed men’s clothes that had belonged to Cindy’s husband Ray Foley.

Media Coordinator David Moshier and resident Kevin Johnson had to make several trips carrying all of the clothes that will be very useful for men coming into Camp Haven. Many men arrive with nothing but the cloths on their backs, and many need nice clothes for job interviews, appropriate working clothes and sneakers as well as going to church clothes. More…

Zudans absent more often than not 1

Local ophthalmologist Val Zudans, who is running for a seat on the Vero Beach City Council, now holds a position on the City of Vero Beach Planning and Zoning Board. Since mid May, Zudans has been absent from four of four scheduled meeting of the P&Z Board. One can only hope that if he is elected to the Council he will have more interest and more time to discharge his duties.

 

 

Everyday socialism, American-style, is happening now all across the country 2

Editor’s note: The City of Vero Beach Utilites and Finance Commissions will meet Aug. 30 to review the terms of the proposed sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light. City Hall watchers expect the Council to approve the terms of the proposed sale when it next meets in September. As Vero Beach prepares to hand over its municipally owned utility for net proceeds of little more than existing cash reserves, the following article on public utilities is worth considering.  This article exploring the benefits of public ownership of utilities was first published in 2013 by truth-out.org.

According to the most recent bills comparisons published by the Florida Municipal Electric Association, FPL’s rate for 1000 kilowatt hours per month is $106.05, allowing for a six percent franchise fee. Vero Electric’s rate is $116.08. Based on current rates, then, Vero Beach residents could expect to save approximately 9 percent on their electric bill, if the deal were to close now. However, FPL will be making a number of rate hikes over the coming years, all of them already approved by the Florida Public Service Commission. Whatever saving Vero Beach residents will see on their electric bills will be somewhat offset by cuts in services and/or tax increases, as the City deals with the loss of $7 million no transferred annually from the Electric Fund to the General Fund.

For a start: It’s often forgotten—or simply not known—that there are more than two thousand publicly owned electric utilities now operating, day by day, week by week, throughout the United States (many in the conservative South). Indeed, 25 percent of US electricity is supplied by locally owned public utilities and co-ops.

Moreover, most of these now conventional “socialist” operations have a demonstrated capacity to provide electricity at lower cost to the consumer, not to mention cheaper and more accessible broadband. (Nationally, on average, customers of private utilities pay 14 percent more than customers of public utilities.)

One obvious reason: Public utilities and co-ops simply don’t pay the same exorbitant executive salaries common in the private sector. They get pretty much the same work done for far less. General managers of the largest class of publicly owned power companies earned an average salary of roughly $260,000 in 2011. Average compensation for CEOs of large investor-owned utilities was $6 million—almost twenty-five times as much.

Also, of course, public utilities and co-op producers don’t have to pay private shareholders any dividends. And they return a portion of their revenues to the city or county to help supplement local budgets, easing the pressure on taxpayers. A recent study found an average transfer of 5.2 percent of revenues to municipalities—compared with average tax payments by private-investor-owned utilities of 3.9 percent.

Continue reading…

Cultural Calendar 1

ONGOING

Ballet Magnifique – A Ballet Class for Special Needs presented by Vero Classical Ballet  is for children ages 5 to 14 with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Cerebral Palsy including those requiring a wheelchair. The classes are taught by experienced instructors, in a welcoming, nurturing, fun and creative atmosphere.  Classes are held every Tuesday, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm at Leisure Square, 3705 16th Street in Vero Beach.  Financial aid is available.  Call 772-360-8577 or visit www.veroclassicalballet.com/special-needs-program.

THURSDAY AUGUST 24

H.A.L.O.  No Kill Rescue presents Meows & Mutts at the Marsh on Thursday, August 24 at 6:30 pm  during Live Bluegrass Night at Marsh Landing Restaurant in Fellsmere. Enjoy signature cocktails & appetizers, live Bluegrass and fun raffle items while supporting H.A.L.O. Visit www.halorescuefl.org.

 

FRIDAY AUGUST 25

Violinists of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra will perform Britten’s  String Quartet No. 2 and Vaughan Williams’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor during British Roadtrip: Britten & Vaughan Williams concert on Friday, August 25 at 7 pm at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1850  6th Avenue in Vero Beach.  Don’t miss this FREE program featuring two of Britain’s finest composers.  Tickets are not required.

Main Street Vero Beach hosts Downtown Friday on August 25 from 6-9 pm along 14th Avenue in Historic Downtown Vero Beach. Listen to the music of Anderson Council and during band breaks, hear rhythm & blues sensation, Gary Moore  and Stefan’s Tiny Sparks.  Stop by the Food Court where there is a great variety of delicious food vendors, ice cream, and cold drinks. Street vendors will be set up along 14th Avenue selling soaps, art, clothing and more.  This family-friendly event is fun for all ages. Free Admission. More…

Old clarifies comments about management of Vero Electric 1

Editor’s note: Vero Beach City Council candidate Randy Old issued the following statement today clarifying his position on the City’s capacity to manage a $100-million-dollar-a-year electric utility business.

Apology Necessary: To the Staff and Management of Vero Electric

I wrote an article entitled “Update on The Sale of Vero Electric” that came out in the last couple of days and it said “Vero has proven that it cannot run a utility” and I meant that the complicated task of running a $100 million utility business was too complicated for a City Council that turned over every couple of years. It needed a structure of people who knew the business, a Utility Authority, or a consulting agreement with a Utility Management Company who could help the City Council make good decisions. In no way was I criticizing the City of Vero Beach employees of the utility, in fact I should have commended them for putting up with our community for the past 10 years while this keep/sell debate was raging and jeopardizing their jobs. I have spent a good deal of time talking to staff trying to understand the situation, rode around with Ted Fletcher just after the last hurricane, and have tremendous respect for him, Tom Richards before him, and his whole unit. I was criticizing City Council people like me, not knowledgeable people in Vero Electric. My apologies.

See Old’s original statement: Old sees power sale closing in 2018

When private thoughts go public 16

Editor’s note: Recently, a now-former Tump Administration official, Anthony Scaramucci, and current presidential advisor, Steve Bannon, gave reporters what they claim were to be off-the-record interviews. The full transcripts of both interviews soon became public. Neither Scaramucci nor Bannon appear to understand the rules under which journalist agree to receive off-the record comments. Locally, civic activist Phyllis Frey wrote an email to Press Journal columnist unilaterally declaring her comments to be “off the record.”  There is no indication, though, that Reisman made public Fry’s wacky email. It seems more likely Fry decided her rant too clever to keep private, and so shared it with others, perhaps with Vero Beach City Councilwoman Laura Moss. What we do know is that Moss read from Frey’s comments during a City Council meeting, thus making the email to Reisman a part of the public record. Below is the full text of Frey’s message to Reisman. Given Frey’s bizarre comments, that Moss seems to be on the same page with her is a bit troubling. 

Correction: The original version of this story posted August 17, 2017 at 8:01 p.m. indicated that Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss opened the August 10 Special Call meeting of the Vero Beach City Council with a statement that included excerpts from an email Phyllis Frey sent to Press Journal columnist Larry Reisman. While some of Moss’ opening statement reflects Frey’s views, it did not directly quote Frey’s email. One commenter to InsideVero, Susan Mehiel, cnfirmed that Frey’s email was sent to Moss and “was sent to 4 or 5 people after the meeting…”

Related story: Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village will be transformative

From:

Phyllis freyTo: larry.reisman reisman

Sent: Friday, August 11, 2017 8:55 AM

Subject: Fw: Follow up to the Special Call workshop: A star performance

Phyllis Frey

Good morning Larry,

Before I get down to a serious strategy, I thought I would impart a few private thoughts—off the record, about yesterday’s star performance by an all-star cast.

I set about my early morning reflections upon the charade that posed as a city council meeting yesterday. If all the world’s a stage, even Shakespeare would have been impressed by the parade of entertainers that strutted, pranced and danced their hour upon the stage, swirling like dervishes before the camera, entertaining all those “wonderful people out there in the dark” in true Norma Desmond fashion.

It was a five star performance by the art village. There were jesters hypnotizing the politicians who sat behind the dais, taken to their own final act of trolling for votes. The original purpose of researching and evaluating the Comprehensive Land Use 2035 POLICY Plan turned into a shadow puppet show then was shown the nearest exit. It was a document too boring, too filled with facts, much too sobering for such a giddy-faced crowd worked into a froth, lined up at the podium to extol the virtues of the arts. When the snake charmer brought the cobra from the basket, Councilman Winger was so entertained he said he would pass the Comp Plan on the spot as is! Bravo, bravo, another Zinger from Winger who was eager for the next act billed as “Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils.”    More…

Moody’s economist speaks to Chamber’s Economic Leadership Alliance Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Dr. Mark Zandi, Bill Penney, and Helene Caseltine at Quail Valley on August 10, 201

On Thursday, August 10, the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce Economic Leadership Alliance welcomed Moody Analytics’ Chief Economist, Dr. Mark Zandi to speak to a small group at the Quail Valley River Club. Taking topic suggestions from the crowd, Dr. Zandi spoke brilliantly about subject matter most relevant to our local business owners and residents with regard to the U.S. and Florida economy. His overall outlook was positive.

Dr. Zandi directs economic research for Moody Analytics, a subsidiary of Moody’s Corp, which is a leading provider of economic research, data, and analytical tools. He regularly conducts briefings on the economy for corporate boards, trade associations, and policy makers, and has testified before Congress on topics including economic outlook, the nation’s fiscal challenges, the merits of fiscal stimulus, and financial regulatory reform. Having owned a home in Vero Beach since 2007, Dr. Zandi answered questions from the group spanning topics including unemployment, labor force, economic prospects, future recessions, real estate, the federal reserve balance sheet, and interest rates. More…

Old sees power sale closing in 2018 2

Former Vero Beach City Councilman Randy Old is running this fall to regain a set on the Council. Old this week issued the following “update” on the proposed sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light. 

RANDY OLD

Randy Old

Short version: aiming to be signed by September 5th 2017, final FMPA approval by January 2018.

Longer Version:  at Tuesday’s City Council meeting both Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) and Florida Municipal Power Agency’s (FMPA) representatives together with Vero Beach’s lawyer brought the Council up to date on the progress of the sale. The numbers have not changed and they are approximately as follows:  FPL is paying $185 million, Vero is paying off its debt and exiting its Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) contract for $47 million, and exiting FMPA for $108 million leaving Vero with net proceeds of some $30 million. More…

Military Moms prayer group honors Marc Richards with Braveheart Award Reply

Marc and Chris Richard with Military Moms Prayer Group

NEWS RELEASE

The Military Moms Prayer Group has named Marc Richard, owner of Postal Connections, as the recipient of the group’s 2017 Braveheart Award. The award, which honors “Extraordinary service to U.S. troops and to the Military Moms Prayer Group,” was presented to Marc at a July reception in his honor at the home of Linda Colontrelle, the group’s president.

Marc, a West Point graduate and nine-year veteran of the Army, was recognized for his help in streamlining the procedures for the prayer group’s gift-box outreach to U.S. troops deployed overseas. Through his efforts, his company has become a primary hub for shipping the care packages.

“I am truly honored to be the recipient of the Braveheart Award,” said Marc. “Knowing that I can play a small part in helping a great organization like the Military Moms Prayer Group has been very rewarding. Recognition with this award is very humbling, especially when I think about all that our troops go through in defending the freedoms we enjoy.” More…

Brerner, Deigl, Perry join Executive Roundtable Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Karen Deigl

Angela Perry

Three community leaders have been invited to become members of the Executive Roundtable of Indian River County bringing the number of voting members to twenty-two.

The Executive Roundtable of Indian River County is a group of executive level community leaders from the school system, law enforcement, government and social service organizations, who come together to identify solutions and accomplish system changes that will protect and enhance the lives of Indian River County children, individuals, families and senior residents. Their meetings are held the last Thursday morning of each month at the United Way of Vero Beach. 

The new members are Karen Deigl, President/CEO of Senior Resource Association where she successfully advocates for older adults and their families; Angelia Perry, the Executive Director of the Gifford Youth Achievement Center and Ann Berner of the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network . More…

Youngstown Ohio residents push to oust corporations from election campaigns Reply

Editor’s note: Locally, Florida Power and Light has spent more than $200,000 in pushing for passage of two local referendums and in supporting City Council candidates such as Tracy Carroll, Harry Howle, Lange Sykes and Laura Moss. At the state level, FPL has poured so much money into political campaigns and political action committees that the Tampa Bay Times editorial board this year described the Florida Legislature as “a wholly owned subsidiary of FPL.” 

RURAL AMERICA IN THESE TIMES

In their seventh attempt to put an end to the environmental threats the oil and gas industry pose to their land, water and right to self-governance, a community rights group in Youngstown, Ohio, is attempting to amend their city’s charter in order to ban corporate interference in their local elections.

With assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)—a non-profit, public interest law firm that provides legal services to communities facing outside threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy and quality of life—the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee has gathered and submitted the signatures required to get the initiative, explained below, on their November ballot. Continue reading…