Of questionable legality, Wells’ proposals, if adopted, would greatly disadvantage the remaining county customers of Vero Electric.
“Because Wells hopes to win votes through deception, his campaign strategy, though not criminal, is nothing short of fraudulent.”
“Finally, $10 million, plus $10 million, plus $10 million, plus $30 million, I believe, adds up to more than $30 million. Wells’ appetite for squandering and misappropriating proceeds from any partial sale is far greater than what would be available, even if the sale were at $47 million.”
“If Wells wins a seat on the Vero Beach city council, his election will be sad proof that if you tell big lies often enough and loud enough, and print them on large enough post cards, people will believe them. Let’s hope Vero Beach voters are smart enough to reject Wells’ lies and his truly foolish ideas.”
Vero Beach city council candidate Norman Wells is running a campaign funded almost entirely on contributions made by residents of John’s Island, who, of course, are not residents of Vero Beach. Armed with Shores money, Wells has been mailing out many thousands of large, slick campaign flyers designed to create a false reality. Because Wells hopes to win votes through deception, his campaign strategy, though not criminal, is nothing short of fraudulent.
Take for example Wells’ so called “10-10-10 Plan.” He proposes to sell Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers base for $17 million less than the recommended price established by a group of five independent utility experts. The consultants were hired by the City of Vero Beach to help determine a price at which Vero Electric’s Shores customers could be sold to Florida Power and Light without the move leading to higher electric rates for the remaining customers.
Rejecting the advice of these consultants, Wells is prepared to accept the $30 million FPL has offered. (Is it any wonder nearly all of his support is coming from Shores residents and from FPL?) Throwing the people of Vero Beach and the remaining customers of Vero Electric under the bus by accepting just $30 million would be malfeasance enough, but Wells has even crazier ideas. Rather than keeping the money within the electric utility to service debt obligations taken on by Vero Electric on behalf of the Shores, and to in other ways cushion the shock of giving up 3500 high-volume customers, Wells wants to spend the money on a few schemes, the absurdity of which suggests the first-time candidate is profoundly ignorant about the finances of the City of Vero Beach.
For starters, Wells would use $10 million to subsidize conversions from septic tanks to a new STEP system. The conversion is a good move, but money from any electric sale simply cannot be used this way. Besides, there is already more than enough money in the Water and Sewer reserve fund to subsidize these conversions, if the Council choose to do that.
Second, Wells would use another $10 million to subsidize electric rates short term. This proposal is almost as ridiculous as an idea put forward by “Flip the Switch,” a political action committee that is supporting Wells, and is funded by Shores residents and by FPL. They suggest writing a check for some $1,700 to every resident of Vero Beach. Wells and his supporters either do not realize any proceeds from a partial sale must be used to address existing obligations, or they are simply trying to deceive voters. I suspect the later is the case. (Shores residents are also supporting candidates Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, who, like Wells, have received nearly all of their campaign contributions from outside Vero Beach. They have been unwilling, uninclined, or unable to raise financial support from within the city, and are relying almost entirely on support from Shores residents and from FPL.)
Third, and here is where Wells is borrowing a page from the Wilson-Heran-Solari playbook, he proposed to use $10 million to fight All Aboard Florida. With this proposal, Wells is simply telling people what he thinks they want to hear, in much the same way Harry Howle III won the election last year by promising to conclude the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. A year has passed, and Howle is no closer to fulfilling his empty promise than he was on election day. Why? Because the sale is stalled for reasons that have nothing to do with actions that have been taken or not taken by the Vero Beach City Council. Howle might as well have campaigned on a promise to suspend the law of gravity.
Wells sent out another mailer contending the $30 million he is willing to accept for Vero Electric’s Shores customers should be used to bolster the City’s pension funds. A plan is already in place for building the pension fund balances, so raiding the Electric Fund for that purpose is unnecessary, and unwise. Further, Wells’ suggestion that the move is necessary to “avoid insolvency” for the City is so patently ridiculous that it must have come from Indian River Shores Town Councilman Richard Haverland, who must be laying awake at night worrying about the financial condition of the City of Vero Beach, a community which he apparently considers to be impoverished. Wells seems to have bought into this nonsense, and no wonder, he is, according to Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, a member of “the Shores team.”
Finally, $10 million, plus $10 million, plus $10 million, plus $30 million, I believe, adds up to more than $30 million. Wells’ appetite for squandering and misappropriating proceeds from any partial sale is far greater than what would be available, even if the sale were at $47 million.
Like Howle before him, Wells is campaigning on promises he can never keep. He is also running on some promises one would hope he never keeps, for several of his proposals are lacking of common sense. Accepting nearly all of his campaign contributions from outside interests, and then agreeing to cave to those interests to the detriment of the people of Vero Beach is truly shameful. If Wells wins a seat on the Vero Beach city council, his election will be sad proof that if you tell big lies often enough and loud enough, and print them on large enough post cards, people will believe them. Let’s hope Vero Beach voters are smart enough to reject Wells’ lies and his truly foolish ideas.