Reader Comment: Half the experience for twice the price? What gives?

Being both a resident of the City of Vero Beach and thus an owner of Vero Electric, I am writing in hopes that you could straighten out this “Sale situation of Vero Electric”.

#1- The former city council of Turner, Fletcher and Carrol signed an agreement to sell to FP&L some years back.   After spending several $MILLIONS by Vero Electric on attorneys they found no way forward, neither did FP&L’s attorneys.  Attorneys the City hired said we should get $185,000,000, but they accepted and offer for $85,000,000 less.  

#2-Then when a new city council came in they hired new attorneys and also spent $MILLION or so to find out that out prior $MILLION attorneys were right. This attorney also advised us not to sell a $47,000,000 asset for $30,000,000 because this would lead to higher rates. That city council took his advise.

#3- Now the new city council majority of Howle, Moss and Sykes fired that attorney that advised us not to take the deal  because they want to sell it for $30,000,000, because somehow that’s the neighborly thing to do. They then interview new attorneys, one of which knows all the details of all these bonds and contracts, but because this very knowledgeable of the facts attorney says a sale will NEVER be able to go through for the entire system, they do not hire him.  Instead they hire an attorney that knows none of the facts and details of all the contracts and bonds, but at $500.00 per hour he will gladly get educated in all the sales agreements that we have already paid other attorney $MILLIONS and who have all come up with the same conclusion that we will never be able to sell the entire system and that we are losing $17,000,000 on the sale of Indian River Shores and that our rates will be increasing.

If this is not the case, could you please tell me what really happened?

Thanks

John Wester.

Editor’s note: At a special call meeting of the City Council Jan. 10, Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes voted to hire the law firm of Carlton Fields at a rate of $495 an hour.  The firm will head the City’s negotiations to sell the Indian River Shores portion of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light.  Councilmen Tony Young and Richard Winger preferred the firm of Gray Robinson, which has worked in utility and municipal law for some 38 years, and has handled utility sales.  In contrast, the lead attorney for Carlton Fields had not represented a municipal utility in a sale. Gray Robinson’s proposed fee was $250 per hour. Howle and Sykes were so sure they wanted to hire Carton Fields, that they moved to dismiss attorneys from Gray Robinson before even hearing their presentation. “I think it would be a complete outrage for the City of Vero Beach to invite a law firm here and then dismiss them without listening to their presentation,” said Young.  

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