“If Howle, Moss and Sykes do agree to a partial sale for $30 million, an apparent discount of $17 million, then Shores leaders and FPL will get a 10,600% return on their investment of $160,000 in campaign contribution to Moss and Sykes, and to the Shores-FPL funded political action committee that supported their election.”
Like Vero Beach City Councilman Harry Howle before them, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes won election to the Council by promising to conclude the proposed sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light. Certainly in his first year on the Council, Howle did noting to move the sale forward. Now that they will make up a new three-person majority, what, if anything, Howle, Moss and Sykes can actually do to fulfill that promise remains to be seen.
Moss and Sykes may someday claim they were only promising to sell off Vero Electric’s Shores customers, but their political advertising said nothing about benefiting just Shores residents, while leaving everyone else paying higher rates.
Just as Howle did in 2015, Moss and Sykes ran campaigns largely funded by outside interests, namely from Indian River Shores residents and FPL. Together, Moss and Sykes received $32,000 in contributions from the Shores. They were also supported by a political action committee, Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow. The PAC received all of its $106,000 in contributions from Shores residents and from FPL. Now it will be for Vero Beach residents to see if Howle, Moss and Sykes will negotiate a partial sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customer base on terms that will not disadvantage the taxpayers of Vero Beach and the remaining customers of the City’s electric utility.
If Moss and Sykes fulfill their campaign promise to accept FPL’s $30 million offer, they will be going against the advice of a team of five independent utility experts who concluded partitioning and downsizing Vero Electric for anything less than $47 million will lead to higher rates and higher taxes. If Howle, Moss and Sykes do agree to a partial sale for $30 million, an apparent discount of $17 million, then Shores leaders and FPL will get a 10,600% return on their investment of $160,000 in campaign contribution to Moss and Sykes, and to the Shores-FPL funded political action committee that supported their election.
Beyond agreeing to a partial sale for the $30 million FPL has offered, what a Howle-Moss-Sykes majority can do to sell the rest of the system remains a mystery. Even FPL spokespersons have said the company’s legal team has no suggestions for how to resolve contract issues that have stalled the sale. Come next years election, when Howle will be up for re-election, if the City does not have in hand a new, voter-approved, purchase and sale agreement that all sides agree can be executed, then the voters of Vero Beach should hold Howle accountable for what at that point will be a broken promise.