Indian River Shores “workaround” may avoid Sunshine Law, but then again, maybe not

COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Bill Grealis
Bill Grealis

In advance of and in preparation for the Indian River Shores Town Council’s hiring of a law firm to prosecute a lawsuit against the City of Vero Beach, two un-elected and un-appointed residents of the Shores, John McCord, and Bill Grealis, vetted prospective firms on behalf of the Council.

An April 7 email from Shores Councilman Dick Haverland to McCord and Grealis confirms the two men worked on behalf of the Council. Haverland wrote, “I know you and Bill are driving the process.”

In reply to Haverland, McCord indicated Grealis was expecting to “hear from FPL shortly on their suggestions.”

Though McCord and Grealis were working on behalf of the Shores Town Council – as in “driving the process,” as Haverland characterized their work – Town Clerk, Laura Aldrich, has taken the position records of McCord’s and Grealis’ communications with each other, with FPL representatives, with Indian River County Commissioners and County staff and with local utility activists are not subject to Florida public records laws.

“Please note that Mr. McCord and Mr. Grealis have not acted in any official capacity, but volunteered in their private capacity to gather information for the town,” Aldrich wrote August 14 in response to a follow-up request from Inside Vero.

Perhaps the most pressing question that might be answered if the Shores would be more forthcoming with records of communications, including those between McCord, Grealis and others, is whether FPL representatives in any way encouraged, supported or assisted official or unofficial representatives of the Town in its preparations to sue the City of Vero Beach. Given FPL’s exiting purchase and sale agreement with Vero Beach, such actions on FPL’s part could constitute a serious breach of contract.

Aldrich also informed Inside Vero that not one of the five members of the Shores Town Council have any cell phone records of conversations with FPL representatives, Indian River County Commissioners or members of County staff, utility activists, or any person since January 1, 2014, relating to the electric operations of the City of Vero Beach, including but not limited to the sale by Vero Beach of its electric utility to FPL, the provision of electric power by Vero Beach to customers residing inside Indian River Shores or other customers outside the Vero Beach city limits, the electric utility franchise agreement between Vero Beach and Indian River Shores, the recent law suit filed by Indian River Shores against Veo Beach or the provision in the future of electric power to customers currently serviced by Vero Beach that reside outside Vero Beach’s city limits, including customers that reside in Indian River Shores, by a provider other than the City of Vero Beach.

The assertion that none of the members of the Shores Town Council has had so much as one cell phone conversation since January 1 with anyone regarding these utility issues is difficult to believe.  If Aldrich takes the same position in response to a far more expansive public records request submitted last week by Vero Beach’s special counsel, Schef Wright, the Town may need to be prepared to explain its position in court.

4 comments

  1. If it is true what they say, it may be they had their spouse, a friend not connected with IRS government, or maybe the cleaning lady contact FPL.

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