Shores-FPL sponsored city council candidates Moss and Sykes must now deliver

COMMENTARY

“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.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Newspaper advertisements like this one placed by a political action committee funded by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light assured voters Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Norman Wells can be counted on to conclude the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. On the strength of their promise to  lower electric rates for everyone Moss and Sykes won election to the Council
Newspaper advertisements like this one placed by a political action committee funded by Indian River Shores residents and by Florida Power and Light assured voters Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Norman Wells can be counted on to conclude the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. On the strength of their promise to lower electric rates for everyone Moss and Sykes won election to the Council

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.

5 comments

  1. Overdue!!!!! This is a fair price to pay to get us out of the “Jam” that earlier city council members voted to get us into. Yes, so in all of the years that Indian Shores Residents were paying 30% higher plus the loss of rebates on appliances and air conditioners, finally three people with reason and ethics. The City of Vero Beach should be very proud!

  2. “Finally?” You may not agree with the position Randy Old took on what constitutes a fair price for the partial sale, but he is certainly a man of ethics. Further, the larger point I am making is that Howle, Moss and Sykes now have an obligation to deliver on their promise to sell the remainder of the system. If they only manage to sell the Shores portion of the system, then they will indeed turn out to be there simply to serve the interests of Shores residents. In a way, that would seem reasonable. After all, their elections were bought and paid for by Shores residents.

  3. This is obviously a complicated situation. It would appear to me that the City of Vero Beach has used due diligence and a prudent approach to a solution by calling on experts in this complicated field. They have advised 47 million dollars as being required as a fair amount to protect the remaining Vero Electric customers after the sale of Indian River Shores customers. The City Council sets policies and takes actions on recommendations from the city manager. I assume our city manager will advise the council to follow the advice of the experts. To do otherwise would be unwise and against the oath of office council members take when assuming office. Mr. Old was 100% correct in his position and as a result the city has lost a dedicated pubic servant.

  4. It appears that our Nation is in for many changes, whether we like the or not. Some good people like Randy Olds get caught in the crunch, and many of us loose. Perhaps big companies like FP&L will also be affected, and perhaps as a “monetary giant” realize that the 17 million is a pittance and could have done so much for the city. This should be an interesting World, let us pray that we can now make it better!

  5. I guess not enough citizens of Vero Beach did their research. People you were voting for Vero Beach City Council…not Indian River Shores. When your electric bill goes up (after the sale of Shores customers) please do not complain. As far as Sykes goes…he must not have gone door to door because if you ever met him you would not vote for him. Moss is another gadfly.
    I heard it with my own ears…..I’m sure the citizens of VB won’t mind paying more so we can get FPL and pay less.
    I think the local election is far scarrier than the national. When it’s so close to home if effects you a lot more.

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