“This simple truth, about which Wells is clearly aware, does not keep Operation Flip Switch from attempting to mislead voters into believing the money could be use to “pay off 80 percent of the $37 million that Vero owed in unfunded pension liabilities,” or put to use any way other than to ensure a downsizing of Vero Electric does not lead to higher rates for the remaining customers.”
“Wells has said the only hope for closing the power deal is to persuade the Florida Legislature to pass special legislation addressing the issue. He should be aware the City Council has supported efforts to seek legislative relief. So when Operation Flip Switch claims otherwise, this is nothing but more dirty politics, and Wells knows it.”
Operation Flip Switch, a single-issue political action committee funded by Florida Power & Light and some three dozen wealthy Indian River Shores residents, has created a web site, is placing online advertising and print adverting, is funding robocalls, and will almost surely also send out of flood of mailers in an effort to swing the outcome of Vero Beach’s municipal election.
Among the PAC’s misleading claims is the assertion that the proceeds from the proposed partial sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customers could be used in any of the following ways:
One of the candidates supported by Operation Flip Switch is Norman Wells. Wells, who was recently introduced by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as a member of “the Shores team,” knows the PAC’s claims are false, if not fraudulent. In providing answers to a questionnaire, Wells wrote, “Even though you can’t specifically use the 30 million for unfunded liabilities, it will free up additional money to deal with those problems now.”
Wells is at least half right. Proceeds from any partial sale must be retained within Vero Electric. If the money is used for other purposes, as Operation Flip Switch proposes, the downsizing of the City’s utility will lead to higher rates. No question about it.
Wells is wrong, though, in claiming a partial sale of Shores customers would “free up additional money.” This notion makes about as much sense as Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s proposal to forgive $1.3 trillion in student loan debt through quantitate easing.
By his own admission, Wells knows proceeds from a partial sale could not be used in ways Operation Flip Switch has proposed. So, why is he silent as FPL-Shores funded PAC attempts to mislead voters into believing the money could be use to “pay off 80 percent of the $37 million that Vero owed in unfunded pension liabilities,” or put to use any way other than to ensure a downsizing of Vero Electric does not lead to higher rates for the remaining customers.
Wells also knows, or should know, that the money cannot, at least should not be used in any of the other ways Operation Flip Switch falsely claims are realistic options.
Two other Counsel candidates supported by the Shores-FPL funded PAC, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, can reasonably claim ignorance, for they have already demonstrated cluelessness on many fronts. Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, though, should know better, as should all of the wealthy Shores residents who put some $37,000 of their own money with $20,000 in FPL contributions to set about misleading the voters of Vero Beach.
While not demonstrating Moss and Sykes-style cluelessness, Wells has made statements that raise questions about his reasoning skills. At a recent candidate forum, for example, Well said, “The last time I checked, it’s never a bad thing to put $30 million in the bank.”
Wells’ statement ignores the fact that if you sell something worth $47 million for $30 million, that is indeed a bad thing. What Vero Electric’s Shores customer base may be worth on the open market is not the point, for the City’s isn’t seeking a buyer. The Shores and FPL are asking for this sale, so it is incumbent upon them to pay a price that ensures the utility’s remaining customers will not get stuck paying higher rates. A team of five utility experts has advised that the City will need $47 million to partition Vero Electric without negatively impacting the remaining customers.
Another of Well’s answers to the questionnaire makes clear he understand full well that the City Council has not stood in the way of concluding the purchase and sale agreement between Vero Beach and FPL. His answer makes clear he understands that the City’s long-term contractual commitment to the Florida Municipal Power Agency cannot simply be ignored.Wells has said the only hope for closing the power deal is to persuade the Florida Legislature to pass special legislation addressing the issue. He should also be aware the City Council has supported efforts to seek legislative relief. So when Operation Flip Switch claims otherwise, this is nothing but more dirty politics, and Wells knows it.
The real question is whether Wells, who presents himself as a gentleman, will continue to accept support from a PAC so clearly set on making claims that are borderline fraudulent.