Grealis and McCord push to raise Shores money to influence Vero Beach City Council election

COMMENTARY

“By continuing to claim members of the Vero Beach City Council have it within their power to persuade the Florida Legislature and the Florida Supreme Court to set aside long-standing contract law simply to allow for the sale of Vero Electric, Grealis and McCord make themselves appear to be two more Shores leaders disconnected from reality.”

“Grealis, McCord and their wealthy Indian River Shores friends trying to buy a Vero Beach City Council election is not much different from Russian president Vladimir Putin attempting to influence the outcome of the current U.S. presidential election.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Bill Grealis
Bill Grealis
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Indian River Shores residents Bill Grealis and John McCord are continuing a push to raise campaign contributions for three Vero Beach City Council candidates they believe will agree to sell Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customer base and related infrastructure at a price experts believe will lead to higher electric rates for everyone else on the system and higher taxes for the residents of Vero Beach.

Apart from whatever private conversations may be taking place over cocktails at the John’s Island Club, Grealis and McCord are blasting out email solicitations on behalf of candidates Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Norman Wells. Their most recent email targeted members of the Indian River Neighborhood Association. Thought the IRNA has not taken a position on the sale of Vero Electric, the organization has in the past supported candidates more focused on quality of life issues. At the same time, the IRNA has opposed candidates inclined to relax or eliminate long-standing regulations against short term rentals.

Grealis and McCord wrote, “We’re asking you to contemplate something as a member of the Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA).  Your dues go to support the platform and slate of the IRNA.  You may not know it, but the IRNA has supported anti-electric-sale candidates for the last several election cycles.  Their candidates’ rhetoric might have been “pro-sale” or “lower electric rates,” but once they were elected they did anything but advocate for the sale.”

Perhaps the staunchest advocate for the sale of Vero Electric is outgoing Councilwoman Pilar Turner. For all her qualities as a politician, Turner does not have a poker face. Her expressions tell it all; and at last night’s Vero Beach City Council meeting Turner make clear she no longer believes the sale is possible, which may be why she is not running for re-election.

The kindest assessment that can be made of Grealis and McCord’s email solicitations on behalf of Moss, Sykes and Wells is that it is misinformed and misleading. To claim, as Grealis and McCord did, that the IRNA is “against any candidate who is in favor of the sale of Vero Electric” is simply untrue, and it reveals just how uninformed the two Shores residents are about why the purchase and sale agreement between Vero Beach and Florida Power & Light, approved by voters and signed in 2013, is stalled, and by all accounts, will never be executed.

In 2011, as the editor of the Vero Beach News Weekly, I wrote a cover story titled, “Contracts.”  In that piece, I laid out in detail the contractual obligations Vero Beach has to the other member cities of the Florida Municipal Power Agency and their bondholders.  Five years have passed since that story was published, yet the facts revealed there remain as relevant today as they were in 2011. By continuing to claim members of the Vero Beach City Council have it within their power to persuade the Florida Legislature and the Florida Supreme Court to set aside long-standing contract law simply to allow for the sale of Vero Electric, Grealis and McCord make themselves appear to be two more Shores leaders disconnected from reality.

Since Grealis and McCord are both intelligent, I suspect they know full well why Vero Electric cannot in the foreseeable future be sold to Florida Power & Light. Their real interest seems to be to gain control of the Vero Beach City Council in hopes of forcing Vero Beach residents and the remaining customers of Vero Electric to subsidize lower rates for Shores residents. Essentially, what they are seeking by supporting Moss, Sykes and Wells is welfare for the wealthy.

All six candidates are to file their next campaign finance reports October 10.  At that point, it will be telling to see just how much Shores money has poured into the Moss, Sykes and Wells campaigns. Grealis, McCord and their wealthy Indian River Shores friends trying to buy a Vero Beach City Council election is not much different from Russian president Vladimir Putin attempting to influence the outcome of the current U.S. presidential election. Vero Beach voters concerned about maintaining the independence and integrity of their municipal government would do well to pay close attention to campaign contribution reports.

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