Target of attack from Commissioner Solari responds

Editor’s note: Barry Shapiro, the author of the following letter to the editor, is a local artist. Conicidentally, Shaprio will be giving a talk this evening from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Center for Spiritual Care on creativity, what it is and what keeps people from experiencing it. Anyone interested in attending Shapiro’s talk this evening can call 772-567-1233 or email centerforspiritualcare@gmail.com. The Center for Spiritual Care is located at 1550 24th Street, near 16th Avenue near the Downtown Art District.

See also: Solari Unhinged

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

So the County Commission finally got to the “Spoonbill Conspiracy” issue this afternoon. What we got was a long, uninterrupted rant from Commission Chair Bob Solari that was for the most part a personal attack against me, Mark Schumann, Vero Beach 32963 and Jay Kramer. First, I have to say thank you to Mr. Solari for taking me from obscurity to local stardom, even if it is as a pariah.

Mr. Solari reviewed some of the history of Spoonbill and made it clear that in his opinion it is a miracle of modern engineering, not perfect but close. He gushed about how it is saving the lagoon. He praised the people who maintain it and the County for building it. Then he got to the meat of his rant which was to disclose how the reports about Spoonbill released to the media and the government were merely political attacks in support of Jay Kramer’s candidacy.

Mr. Solari mentioned several times that I had written an editorial in support of Kramer and had made an in-kind contribution to his campaign of $950. Both those things were true at least. Stopping just short of calling me an idiot and a con man, he claimed that the entire effort was a conspiracy by Kramer, myself and other Kramer supporters to unseat him. He was only partially correct in that once I read the Spoonbill Marsh report and spoke with people in the know I felt that the County would be better served by Jay Kramer than Bob Solari. By the way, nothing has changed on that count.

Mr. Solari cited an email I distributed and the fact that I would not reveal my sources as further evidence that I had a political ax to grind. He mentioned that although I had at first agreed to give the report over to Mr. Burke at the County Public Utilities office I then refused to do so, which is also true. I did agree to give him the report, but was later told not to for legal reasons. Apparently I am not only not an environmentalist,t but also I am not a lawyer.

He also quoted a statement I made in one of my emails that “I am not an environmental expert,” and that in reading the report it was “all Greek to me.” True again, I am not an environmental expert, but I am no dummy and I made a number of calls and spoke to many people who corroborated most if not all if the information I had at my disposal. And I did say it was Greek to me because reading charts, graphs and factoring numbers is not my thing, but that doesn’t make those numbers wrong.

Mr. Solari cited a subsequent article in Vero Beach 32963, singling that publication out for being biased and having its own agenda not in the public interest. I found the 32963 article, (also read in Veronews.com), to be fair and balanced and well researched, so I was surprised at Mr. Solari’s obvious anger directed toward that publication. Given that 32963 ran an editorial urging its readers not to vote for Kramer, Mr. Solari can hardly argue the paper’s Spoonbill March reporting was in any way intended to help him in his campaign against Mr. Solari.

Solari did acknowledge that some water may be spilling into the Indian River Land Trust property, but that the County had been working to resolve that for quite some time. That should raise some red flags right there. He also emphatically stated that Spoonbill is doing “no harm to anything or anyone.” He said that “Spoonbill is a great cutting edge project that is working.”

Mr. Solari let it be known that a copy of the report was obtained by a “journalist,” Thomas Hardy, who is in fact a blogger and a former Bush Administration employee in Washington D.C. I cut off communication with once I concluded he is not, in my opinion, a credible journalist. Mr. Hardy had also accused me of having only political motivations. The copy of the report was then given to some kind of forensic computer expert named Dancy. (I didn’t get his full name). According to Mr. Dancy, he traced the report to a Power Point presentation authored by Mr. Carter Taylor of the Indian River Neighborhood Association, mentioning that Mr. Taylor’s group had also contributed to the Kramer campaign. He expressed confusion as to Mr. Taylor’s motivation, given his past experiences dealing with him, and could not understand how the Carter Taylor he knows would be the author of such a report. My question is who paid for the data mining – Mr. Solari or the County?

Mr. Solari called the report scurrilous and a “hail Mary to alter the election.” He heaped high praise on the Press Journal, which I believe endorsed him, for not publishing anything about our report, and on Mr. Hardy as a journalist. He saved his greatest scorn for me, essentially referring to me as a bad person and suggesting that I will disappear now that the election is over – which I found amusing since I was right there in the audience. He also savagely attacked Mr. Schumann calling him an “idiot” and a “progressive Pavlov’s Dog blogger.”

He suggested that Mr. Schumann and I were two of only a few evil people in the County, that the rest of the citizens were ‘good people,” and suggested we should both essentially disappear. He stated his opinion that now that the election was over people like Mr. Schumann and I would just go away. To which I say “nah, I don’t think so…”

What I found interesting was he never addressed any of the issues brought forth in our report, which is typical of a politician. Immediately after he ended his speech, Mr. Solari was followed up by Commissioner Fletcher who talked about grapefruits in the County and how this showed that there were many grapefruits. Frankly, I didn’t know what he was talking about but apparently Mr. Solari did, because he abruptly cut of any further discussion and moved on to the next item whereupon I left the building.

What I learned from all of this is, frankly, very little. Mr. Solari is still in denial or cover-up mode. He is a pretty angry fellow and reminds me of Donald Trump – without hair. In my opinion, Mr. Solari is a man of great physical stature but low on character. I also learned that by participating in local politics you must be very thick skinned.

I had no intention of responding to Mr. Solari’s attack at the meeting but I will make a formal response in the days ahead and will somehow make that public.

In the meantime, it is my understanding that the investigation of Spoonbill by the Department of Environmental Protection goes on, and that they are working with the County to make changes that will correct the issues we have raised. Part of the problem that the DEP is facing is in the legal wording of the original permit, and they are addressing that with the County. In addition, I was pleased to learn that the outflow into the Lagoon was found to be clean by DEP standards. That does not account for the fresh water spilling into the Indian River Land Trust salt water marsh, but we’ll see how that pans out in the months ahead.

On a personal note, I believe that most of you know that this was never political for me. It was never personally about Mr. Solari, although I did want to see him replaced. I knew that if I got involved I’d take some heat. It’s OK. But Mr. Solari has now made it both personal and political, and I assure you I will be actively fighting him from now on. It seems that Mr. Solari, who proved himself to be a thin skinned bully, will have some more answering to do in the future regarding Spoonbill Marsh, if I have anything to do with it.

Thanks for your support.

Barry Shapiro

5 comments

  1. Mark, I was never a “Bush Administration employee in Washington, DC,” although I was a volunteer National Advance Man for George H. W. Bush when he ran against Ronald Reagan. At that time I lived in Boston. I have never lived in D.C. As to my credibility, I informed Mr. Shapiro I am a non-resident member of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and a Charter Member of the Columbia Journalism Review.

  2. Thomas, Hopefully Mr. Shaprio will take note your comment. On your own website, you also published the full text of Mr. Solari’s memo, so you know full well that in it he did far more than simply respond to allegations about the effectiveness of Spoonbill Marsh,” as your headline reported. Taking advantage of his position as a County Commissioner, Solari used the Commission’s televised meeting time to question the motivations of any and all who would dare challenge or question him. Further, as the full text of Solari’s memo/statement makes clear, in his mean-spirited, bullying way, Solari launched deeply personal attacks. This kind of thin-skinned pettiness is unbecoming of a member of the Indian River County Commission. Finally, I wonder how many of your fellow non-resident, or resident members of the National Press Club write emails to their sources telling them that they respect them too much to write a story that could cast them in a negative light, as you did in an email you wrote to Solari on July 20, 2015. Your relationship with Solari appears to be much like the cozy connection FOX News ‘journalist” Sean Hannity has with Trump. See: https://insidevero.com/2015/09/10/a-challenge-to-free-speech/

  3. When it comes to Commissioner Solari, I believe he has told the lie about the benefits of the Spoonbill Marsh so often he has come to believe himself. This is his pattern. I remember once, years ago, when he was giving a speech at a Republican Club I asked him why the County was collecting a six percent franchise fee on the City’s Electric bill and his answer was simply – “because we can”. That is just the kind of guy he is. But, one has to remember this, he is a money machine when it comes to campaigning he will always be able to raise enough money to win elections. So, it looks like Indian River County is stuck with this thin skinned bully who speaks only to suit himself.

  4. I could be wrong, but I think Mr. Solari’s opponent in the recent election – Brian Heady – received something like 27,000 votes. Why would so many cast their votes that way when it was obvious Mr. Solari would win? It could be that some wished to show everyone did not approve of Mr. Solari. In my case, that was why I voted for Brian Heady. It is too bad some of our leaders have gotten so full of themselves that they would spend the public’s time ranting the way Mr. Solari did.

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