Stump working to help FPL and Shores leaders gain control of Vero Beach City Council

COMMENTARY

“By criticizing a fellow Republican for his loyalty to the G.O.P., Stump proved there is no gutter too low for him to wallow in. Presumably Stump operates on the premise that honor counts for nothing, and that the end always justifies the means.”

“Vero Beach voters should see Stump for who he is, and should understand “Flip the Switch” for what it is, an FPL and Shores-funded attempt to gain control of Vero Beach City Council. This unprecedented level of outside influence in Vero Beach’s municipal election threatens the very integrity of the City’s democratically elected government. Whether Vero Beach will continue to be governed by leaders representing the people of Vero Beach, or by others beholden to Shores residents and FPL is the fundamental question voters must now decide.”
MARK SCHUMANN

Dan Stump
Dan Stump

Heading a political action committee funded entirely by contributions from Florida Power and Light and by a few dozen John’s Island residents, Dan Stump is on the attack. His targets are Vero Beach City Council candidates Sharon Gorry, incumbent Randy Old, and Tony Young.

Gorry, Old and Young have all said they support continuing to seek ways to complete the sale of Vero Electric to FPL, including through Legislative action. However, all three have also raised serious questions about selling off the Shores portion of the electric system for $30 million. Pointing to a $47 million valuation prepared by a team of five utility experts, Gorry, Old and Young contend downsizing the utility for significantly less than $47 million would inevitably lead to higher electric rates for the remaining customers. Outgoing Vero Beach Mayor Jay Kramer once characterized a sale at $30 million, as “throwing everyone else under the bus,” simply to benefit Shores residents.

Shores leaders are seeking to elect to the Vero Beach City Council candidates who have pledge to accept FPL’s $30 million offer. To support a slate of three candidates, a few dozen wealthy Shores residents have partnered with FPL to fund a political action committee, “Flip the Switch.” This Shores-FPL PAC is supporting candidates Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Norman Wells. All three were recently introduced by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as members of what he described as “the Shores team.” Including money given to their PAC, “Flip the Switch,” and directly to candidates Moss, Sykes and Wells, FPL and Shores contributions in Vero Beach’s municipal election have, by a margin of two to one, dwarfed contributions made by residents of Vero Beach. Outside money threatens to dominate this municipal election.

In support of the “Shores Three,” Stump, as chairman of “Flip the Switch,” is leading a coordinated, and well-funded attack. Within the last few days, Stump sent out a email blast criticizing Old for his contention that accepting just $30 million for Vero Electric’s Shores customer base would constitute a breach of his fiduciary responsibility to the people of Vero Beach. Stump, who is heading a PAC funded exclusively by outside interests, charges that Old is following the lead of “outsiders.”

Last night, while considering Dan Stump’s latest criticism of Old, it occurred to me that this kind of attack, reeking as it does of hypocrisy, is nothing new for Stump, who two years ago was involved in a Shores-based assault on Kramer. Incredibly, while a member of the Indian River County Republican Executive Committee, Stump, aided by Shores Vice Mayor Gerry Weick, sent a postcard to registered Democrats attacking Kramer for his position in Republican Party leadership. The post card, which included a Photoshopped picture of Kramer standing next to Gov. Rick Scott, also attacked Kramer for having taken an oath to support Republican candidates. As a member of the Republican Executive Committee, Stump had taken the very same oath. By criticizing a fellow Republican for his loyalty to the G.O.P., Stump proved there is no gutter too low for him to wallow in. Presumably Stump operates on the premise that honor counts for nothing, and that the end always justifies the means.

Stump’s latest outrageous hypocrisy is, of course, his claim that Old is serving the interests of outsiders. Old, a retired banker, had a stellar career in international banking. He is far more versed in the world of finance than is Stump, an attorney, who not that long ago moved to Vero Beach from Fort Lauderdale. For Stump, who is serving the interests of outsiders who seek to influence the outcome of Vero Beach’s municipal election, to criticize Old for relying on the advice of a team of five utility experts, is an outrage.

Vero Beach voters should see Stump for who he is, and should understand “Flip the Switch” for what it is, an FPL and Shores-funded attempt to gain control of the Vero Beach City Council. This unprecedented level of outside influence in Vero Beach’s municipal election threatens the very integrity of the City’s democratically elected government. Whether Vero Beach will continue to be governed by leaders representing the people of Vero Beach, or by others beholden to Shores residents and FPL, is the fundamental question voters must now decide.

One comment

  1. As usual, Mark is right on target with his analysis of what is going on in this race for City Council, with Indian River Shores so-called “Shores Team Candidates Moss, Sykes and Wells” being funded by Stump’s Political Action Committee ‘Clean Sweep for a Brighter Future’, with over $100,000 funding from millionaires in Johns Island, and FPL itself. This “Shores Team” of candidates for Vero’s City Council actually attended a Town of Indian River Shores meeting, where Mayor Barefoot introduced the three as ‘our candidates’ who, if elected, will quickly sell the Shores portion of Vero Utility’s franchise for the dirt cheap price of $30 million, to FPL. (The weekly newspaper ‘32763’ reporter Lisa Zahner covered on this Sept. meeting under “Shores Mayor Blasts Vero Beach City Council on Electric”. No wonder Shores and FPL support these three—who will leave Vero taxpayers to make up the $17 million difference by having to pay higher taxes, utility rates and have reduced city services. But why would Vero city citizens voters support shifting these costs to us? Mark described Stump’s duplicity with Jay Kramer. But worse, is the false and misleading claims Mr. Stump’s PAC is currently making, including a FULL PAGE ad in todays Press Journal (PJ). In the ad, Stump claims the city’s actual voting residents can use the $30 million to: “pay off 80% of ….unfunded pension liabilities; fully fund VB Police Dept; pay for VB 4th of July Celebration for 200 yrs; lower Ad Valorem tax rate by 20%”, etc. These promises appear false, designed to bait Vero voters into supporting the ‘Shores team’. I talked to the Chairman of Vero’s Finance Commission (counterpart of its Utility Commission on which Laura Moss sits), and was informed that if this partial-sale goes through (at any price), the funds received can ONLY be used within the Vero Electric. This is because the bondholders of Vero Electric have protective clauses in their loan that prohibit using sale of part of the plant for non-utility related purposes. To do as Mr. Stump suggests, would violate the terms of our bond agreements, and negatively effect our bond rating with Fitch (the rating agency). So don’t believe this full page lie being run by Mr. Stump’s PAC in today’s Press Journal. Perhaps the PJ would be so kind as to investigate if these claims are justified—but at least the PJ endorsed Randy Old and Tony Young for the City Council race. Lets just add Sharon Gorry, a 4th generation Vero family. That is the slate endorsed, after careful deliberation, by the Indian River Neighborhood Association (Young, Old and Gorry).

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