“The island weekly’s editorial urging readers not to vote for Kramer in his primary challenge to Solari is further evidence that Solari is the candidate who can be counted on to work for the disincorporation of the City of Vero Beach. If the people of Vero Beach want to lose their city, then Solari is the candidate to support come Aug. 30. If the people of the Shores and the County want to see more contentiousness in local politics, more lawsuits, more empty promises about addressing the Lagoon crisis, then Solari is your man.”
Vero Beach 32963’s latest attack on Vero Beach Mayor Jay Kramer is remanicent of other instances when it appeared the newspaper’s publisher and/or editors were incapable of censuring themselves or in moderating their tone.
For example, the island weekly once published a half page picture of a local woman making a less than ladylike gesture to a 32963 paparazzi. Other photographs were available to illustrate the story on the dangers of driving while distracted, but that did not keep the island weekly from needlessly embarrassing the young mother and her family. Then there was the time 32963 carried a DUI booking photograph on the front page, even though the picture was not directly related to the current offense being reported. Why use the older photo? “Because,” the publisher told me, “it was the stronger image.”
More importantly, the weekly’s latest rant is further evidence of its bias against the City of Vero Beach, its leaders and its employees.
Now comes 32963’s accusation that Kramer has been “duplicitous” in his dealings with Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot. The Shores-centric island weekly’s latest temper tantrum rises out of years of mounting frustration over the newspaper’s failure to aid in the election of a majority of Vero Beach City Council candidate who will kowtow to Shores leaders.
If Kramer is guilty of anything it is trying to work with a man like Barefoot, who appears to have little if any interest in seeking win-win solutions. “Suddenly, the gap between what FPL was offering and the outrageous amount Vero was demanding had shrunk from $51 million to only $12.4 million,” read the island weekly’s editorial.
To begin with, 32963 has its facts wrong. FPL offered $13 million for Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers. A team of utility consultants hired by the City estimated it would take $47.2 million (not $51 million) to ensure the remaining customers will not face higher rates as a result of carving up the utility. FPL then offered $30 million, with $3 million to come from Shores residents in the form of a surcharge on their electric bills. FPL’s “final” offer left of gap, not of $12.4 million, but of $17.2 million.
To his credit, Kramer kept the negotiations going as long as possible, but he can hardly be faulted for not agreeing to a deal that would have left Vero Beach taxpayers and the remaining customers of Vero Electric facing the prospect of higher taxes and higher electric bills.
Since its launch in 2008, the island weekly has been working, it seems, to force the City of Vero Beach to disincorporate. Who can forget 32963’s lamentations over the failed effort, led by County Commissioner Bob Solari, to wrest from Vero Beach’s its Shores water customers. As 32963 admitted in its editorial on the subject, the ultimate objective was to force Vero Beach to sell its water and sewer utility to the County.
At every turn, the island weekly has supported Solari’s attempts to weaken Vero Beach financially. What the island-based paper’s leadership longs for, I suspect, is one barrier island municipality, with the mainland of what is now Vero Beach absorbed into the County.
The island weekly’s editorial urging readers not to vote for Kramer in his primary challenge to Solari is further evidence that Solari is the candidate who can be counted on to work for the disincorporation of the City of Vero Beach. If the people of Vero Beach want to lose their city, then Solari is the candidate to support come Aug. 30. If the people of the Shores and the County want to see more contentiousness in local politics, more lawsuits, more empty promises about addressing the Lagoon crisis, then Solari is your man.
Win or lose come Aug. 30, Kramer has over the past six years offered an example of leadership that is the antithesis of Solari – no lectures from the dais, no diatribes, no demagoguery, no shutting down of citizen input by dissolving committees, no strong-arming or back stabbing, no belittling those with whom he disagrees. (Solari, given as he is to outrageous statements, once went on a local radio program and accused Kramer of “being an apologist for ISIS.” You’ve got to think that if Solari were on the national stage, he would make Donald Trump appear to be a disciplined candidate of even temperament.)
Given his vote this past week to protect the interests of his own constituents, Kramer may not get a lot of support Aug. 30 from those Shores residents who were hoping he would be willing to hurt others to benefit them. But how many Shores residents wanted that? Probably far fewer than Solari and his friends at 32963 would like to think. And how many people outside the Shores pay attention to and respect the opinions of the editors at the island weekly? Time will tell.