Departing from the published agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Laura Moss opened by publicly berating Councilman Richard Winger for writing a guest column in which he shined a light on instances when previous City Council’s have made major decisions and commitments that have not turned out well for the taxpayers of Vero Beach and for the customers of Vero Electric.
Winger’s central point was that previous Councils have not alway taken the time necessary to properly “vet” important decisions. Winger said he wants to avoid making that same mistake with the proposed partial sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customer base to Florida Power & Light.
The original wholesale power agreement with the Orlando utilities Commission and the purchase of the old Dodgertown golf course for $10 million were to example Winger sited. In his column, Winger went on to urge the current Council to carefully consider and fully understand the implications of selling Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers base to Florida Power & Light for $30 million. (A team of 5 independent utility experts hired by the City concluded a sale for less than $47 million will expose Vero Beach taxpayers and the remaining customers of Vero Electric to higher taxes and higher electric rates. When the team reported its recommendations, their conclusions were supported buy City Staff.)
Apparently Moss is no fan of free speech, or of dissenting views, for she accused Winger of not “following the rules” in writing his guest column. The “rule” Moss was referring to was an edict she issued at her first Council meeting in which she decreed that all Council members will communicate in a “positive, cordial tone.”
Moss then assumed a negative, antagonistic and hostile tone when, again departing from the published agenda, she played two spliced- together videos, one of her chairing the Nov. 8 Utilities Commission meeting in which she was dismissive of points Finance Commission Chairman Peter Gorry was making about how the Public Service Commission approves rates.
Feeling that Moss’ splicing of the video failed to present his remarks in context, Gorry came forward asking for two minutes two respond. Despite requests from Winger and from Councilman Tony Young to allow Gorry to speak, Moss shut Gorry down and made him wait nearly six hours to come forward during public comment time.
Editor’s Note: Though Laura Moss claims she has a “mandate” from the people of Vero Beach to move forward with the partial sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customers to FPL, in truth her mandate is from the Shores, not from the people of Vero Beach. Moss, who was publicly identified by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as a “member of the Shores team,” received 70 percent of her campaign funds from Shores residents. She was also supported by a political action committee funded entirely by contributions from FPL and from Shores residents. With more than $100,000 in its war chest, that Shores-FPL funded PAC ran advertising that made grossly false claims about how the proceeds from the proposed partial sale could be used. In truth, Moss’ “mandate,” such as it is, is based on a PAC of lies, and that PAC was funded by Shores residents and FPL. Now Moss is resolved to give FPL and the Shores exactly what they want, regardless of the consequences for the people of Vero Beach.