So much else to consider

COMMENTARY 

“Saving the Lagoon, addressing the fast train, ensuring quality municipal services, improving relations with neighboring governments, continuing to reduce electric rates, maintaining employee moral, and developing a plan for maintaining the City’s physical assets are all important issues to be considered. Unfortunately, a broader discussion about Vero Beach’s future is being eclipsed by wealthy Shores residents who want to make Vero Beach’s municipal election all about them.”

“Much like carpetbaggers who descended on a ravaged south following the Civil War, Shores residents who insist on a partial sale at a $17 million discount are simply trying to take advantage of others. There is a reason why Sen. Bernie Sanders received 13 million votes during the primaries, just as there is a reason why so many working class voters resonate with Donald Trump’s populist message. People are tired of the selfishness of so many in the top one percent.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Having partnered with Florida Power and Light, Indian River Shores leaders and a number of the Town’s residents are employing some of their considerable wealth to again make Vero Beach’s municipal election all about the power sale.  This narrow, selfish focus on a single issue is great a disservice to the larger community.

Like any community, Vero Beach has a number of issues to address.  The Lagoon is in crisis, the fast train is coming, intergovernmental relations are at an all-time low, and there is much work to be done restoring Vero Beach’s infrastructure and improving moral following the Carroll-Turner-Fletcher experiment in making brutal cuts in services.  This municipal election could have been the occasion for a broad and thorough discussion about how best to maintain quality of life in Vero Beach, but because selfish Shores leaders are hijacking the city’s election for their own benefit, the dominant issue is again the power sale.

Lost in the fog of Shores-FPL propaganda is the fact that Vero Beach’s quality of life is up for a vote. One candidate, Lange Sykes, believes the only services Vero Beach should provide are transportation and public safety.  At least based on answers he gave in response to a questionnaire, Sykes would shut down the City’s recreation programs. Presumably, he would also turn over to the County Vero Beach’s City’s excellent and profitable water and sewer utility.  If Sykes had his way, Vero Beach residents would likely have to give up twice-weekly garbage collection. Why? Because in Sykes’ mind, these are not “essential” government services as envisioned by the “founding fathers.”

Given that the “founding fathers” also did not envision air travel, would Sykes do away with municipal ownership of the Vero Beach Airport? Presumably he would.

Answering a question on budgets and taxes, Sykes wrote, “There are always alternatives to raising taxes. I do not support raising taxes under any circumstances.”

Coming from Sykes, that statement is nonsensical, for he proposes to sell Vero Electric’s Shores customer base to FPL at a price so low the move is sure to lead to higher taxes.  He also argues for divesting the City of its enterprise funds, namely the Water and Sewer and Solid Waste utilities. Sykes would hand these valuable assets over the the County or would privatizing them.  Enterprise funds contribute to the General Fund and help to pay for excellent municipal service – all while offering superior service and competitive rates, so giving them up is not a bright idea.

Sykes is also opposed to the City renegotiating a franchise agreement with the County to continue providing water and sewer services to residents living in the unincorporated area of the south barrier island.  Never mind that to service that area the County would have to spend millions of dollars boring under the Indian River Lagoon to connect the south barrier island to its largely mainland-based system.

Sure, there is, as Sykes says, always an alternative to raising taxes. Just cut services. Well, diminishing the level and quality of Vero Beach’s municipal service is a terrible idea.  Sykes’ positions demonstrate his complete lack of appreciation for what makes Vero Vero.  It is not an overstatement, then, to say that his candidacy is a threat to the quality of life in Vero Beach.

Saving the Lagoon, addressing the fast train, ensuring quality municipal services, improving relations with neighboring governments, continuing to reduce electric rates, maintaining employee moral, and developing a plan for maintaining the City’s physical assets are all important issues to be considered. Unfortunately, a broader discussion about Vero Beach’s future is being eclipsed by wealthy Shores residents who want to make Vero Beach’s municipal election all about them.

Much like the carpetbaggers who descended on a ravaged south following the Civil War, Shores residents who insist on a partial sale at a $17 million discount are simply trying to take advantage of others. There is a reason why Sen. Bernie Sanders received 13 million votes during the primaries, just as there is a reason why so many working class voters resonate with Donald Trump’s populist message. People are tired of the selfishness of so many in the top one percent.

Given the considerable financial resources FPL and Shores leaders are willing to spend controlling, if not manipulating the outcome of Vero Beach’s municipal election, the wealthy and powerful may well get their way. If they are successful in persuading Vero Beach voters to elect three Shores’ puppets to the Vero Beach City Council, it is the people of Vero Beach who will suffer the consequences.  Now is time to reject the Shores’ efforts to make this election all about them.  Now is the time to stand up for Vero Beach.

2 comments

  1. I hope Vero voters have not forgotten Sykes vicious,smear campaign against Erin Grall. Sykes should explain why he employed the All Aboard Florida lobbyist to run his failed election bid a short time ago.Is it possible All Aboard Florida needs a “mouth piece” and it looks like he fits the bill. For sure ,if Sykes , Moss and Wells are elected, taxes will go up as well as our electric bills. Why Sykes or anyone would want to “give” a profitable water and sewer system to the county is beyond belief, unless you are seeking favor and financial backing for political success. Selling our electric company for $17,000,000 less than its worth is not good government . I am suspicious of any politician from Vero who is controlled by outside governments and people.

  2. Losing control of Vero Beach to outsiders would be the beginning of the end of the city we know and love.

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