FPL-Shores funded PAC’s claims border on fraudulent – and Wells knows it

COMMENTARY

“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.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Wells - He knows Operation Flip the Switch's claims are off the mark, but he isn't saying anything.
Wells – He knows Operation Flip the Switch’s claims are off the mark, but he isn’t saying anything.
PAC's claims are misleading.
PAC’s claims are misleading.

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:

This screen shot from Operation Flip Switch's website leads readers to believe Vero Beach could do all of the above, if only the City Council would ignore the advice of a team of five utility experts who have calculates at partial sale at anything less than $47 million will result in higher taxes and higher electric rates.
This screen shot from Operation Flip Switch’s website leads readers to believe Vero Beach could do all of the above, if only the City Council would ignore the advice of a team of five utility experts who have calculates at partial sale at anything less than $47 million will result in higher taxes and higher electric rates. In truth, none of these these proposals a realistic options.

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.

5 comments

  1. The three candidates supported by Indian River Shores know full well that all proceeds from a partial sale cannot be spent as they advertised. Mr wells might be hoping that at least one item can be enhanced since he receives a healthy pension as a former fireman. It is clear ” The Shores 3″ did not write this Press Journal Ad, but some highly paid political consultant did hired by Indian River Shores money and, of course, FPL money too. Who is Glenn Heran and why is he involved in Vero affairs when he does not live in the city? .We can not allow Indian River Shores or any other outsider determine who will represent us on the Vero City Council, and we can not sell Vero Electric for an amount far less than its worth.

  2. I think the Heran family has rental properties that are under city utilities. If I’m wrong, I apologize but do believe this.

  3. So what does the partial sale to Indian River Shores have to do with Heran’s rental properties? NOTHING. He should mind his own business. If his goal is to sell our electric company to FPL, the partial sale will have a negative effect on a total sale price if it can ever occur,which FMPA will not allow for many,many years into the future. No, I believe his goal, and the goal of many others, is to weaken Vero financially and thereby forcing it to dis-incorporate and become a vassal state of the county. I might add his position on short term rentals is contrary to what most residents want for our city.He is no friend of the city.

  4. Heran is Wells campaign treasurer. He is not a friend of the city, you are correct Mr. Church.
    Has anyone taken the latest poll for the City Council race? It made my blood boil.

  5. Can you believe any poll sponsored by FPL or Indian River Shores politicians? Selling the electric system for $17,000,000 LESS then its worth is not good government , but do the care ? No is the answer . What ever happened to integrity and truth?

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