Questions raised about role of mayor and of advisory commissions

MARK SCHUMANN

Laura Moss
Laura Moss
Glen Brovont
Glen Brovont

As the result of an email Mayor Laura Moss wrote today attempting to direct and limit the work of the Finance Commission, a number of sections from the City Charter and Ordinances appear to have been violated by the newly elected mayor. Moss wrote the email without guidance, direction or concurrence from her fellow council members. In acting unilaterally, Moss apparently overstepped her limited authority under Vero Beach’s form of government.

Moss’s email was written one day after newly elected Finance Commission Chairman, Glen Brovont, wrote the following to his fellow commission members. “At the past meeting, it was agreed, the 2/20/2017 meeting will be devoted to the partial IRS utility sale to FPL.  The city councils position is well known, but there is no guarantee of the partial sale price yet or that a full sale will occur. Therefore, understanding the difference between this “on-the-table price & the city’s original “asked price” may be advisable.”

Below are excerpts from Moss’ email and relevant sections of the City Charter and Ordinances:

Moss:With regard to the Finance Commission’s planned discussion (02/20) of the “partial sale,” the previous City Council did not request that the Finance Commission review same prior to its vote on the matter.  The current Council neither.”  …  “As City Council already has voted on this matter, no further discussion is required at this time.”

City Charter: “In performing its mission, the finance commission shall initiate its own proposals, make recommendations, and provide alternatives to the city council.”

Moss:The Finance Commission serves at the pleasure of the City Council.”

City Charter: “Each council member shall individually appoint one regular voting member to each of the following:1. Finance commission. 2. Planning and zoning board.3. Utilities Commission.”

Moss:As the Presiding Officer of City Council, I direct that the priority be funding matters with specific regard to the following: 1) Recreation Department; 2) Streets and stormwater; 3) Marina; 4) Number and function of City employees (full/part-time), including pension/benefits.”

City Charter:Duties. The mayor shall preside at meetings of the council and shall be recognized as head of the city government for service of process, ceremonial matters, and execution of contracts, deeds, and other documents. The mayor shall have no administrative duties other than those necessary to accomplish these duties.”

The following in the full text of Moss’ email regarding the work of the Finance Commission.

From: “Philo, Sherri” <SPhilo@covb.org>

To: “Howle, Harry” <HHowle@covb.org>; “Winger, Richard” <RWinger@covb.org>; “Young, Anthony W” <AWYoung@covb.org>; “Sykes, Lange” <LSykes@covb.org>; “O’Connor, Jim” <JOConnor@covb.org>; “Lawson, Cindy” <CLawson@covb.org>; “Bursick, Tammy” <tbursick@covb.org>

Sent: Monday, February 13, 2017 3:22 PM

Subject: From Mayor Moss Regarding Needed Changes

I have reviewed the Finance Commission meeting of 02/10/2017 in its entirety.

With regard to the Finance Commission’s planned discussion (02/20) of the “partial sale,” the previous City Council did not request that the Finance Commission review same prior to its vote on the matter.  The current Council neither.

 As Chairwoman of the Utilities Commission, I showed the initiative to have the Utilities Commission review then make a recommendation regarding the “partial sale.”  The Finance Commission showed no such initiative, neither prior to the vote of the previous Council nor prior to the vote of the current Council.  As City Council already has voted on this matter, no further discussion is required at this time. 

The Finance Commission serves at the pleasure of the City Council.  As the Presiding Officer of City Council, I direct that the priority be funding matters with specific regard to the following:

1)      Recreation Department;

2)      Streets and stormwater;

3)      Marina;

4)      Number and function of City employees (full/part-time), including pension/benefits.

City Council will hold the first of a series of Vision Plan meetings on Monday, March 13th.  This series will address the budgetary issues cited above.  I hope that the Finance Commission will keep abreast of these matters.

I caution the Commission against taking political positions and urge it to confine its activities to its mission.  Taking political positions is the function of elected officials not an advisory board.  This admonition applies especially to any former member of City Council, who was not re-elected, but who elects himself to take political positions via his appointment to an advisory board.

Furthermore, the Finance Commission should set a good example by holding its meetings within the normal business hours of City Hall.  A 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. meeting involves an hour of unbudgeted overtime for City staff.

Commissioner Bass’s request that all informational materials related to any meeting be made available in advance only reasonably reiterates requirements already in place.

The reorganization of the Finance Commission should lend itself to needed changes.

The following in the full text of Brovont’s email to the members of the Finance Commission:

From: Glen Brovont
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2017 5:40 PM
To: Philo, Sherri
Subject: FINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS (clear though staff if necessary)

 To each of you, thanks for your vote of confidence as the Chairman for the 2017 finance committee meetings.  i will work hard not to embarrass your vote of confidence. 

just a note, I do not believe very much in committees.  I do however believe in “Teams”.   Each of you are an intrical part of this team with; unique abilities, prospectus, informational sources, listening strengths, and communication skills. If you use them while reviewing the available data on each subject and come prepared to the meeting, the team will be successful, we will have fun doing it, and hopefully help the elected officials, improve the community, and enhance it for the hard working people within it. 

This past week, the team established 2 hour initial meeting limits between 4 & 6pm on Mondays; if at all possible.

I would like to suggest the following; (a) within 5 minutes of meeting starting on time the past minutes are resolved; (b) then 3 to 5 minutes is allocated to each committee member, including secondaries,to provide his or her concise thoughts, without interruptions, on the subject matter, (21 to 35 minutes,cumulatively 40 minutes worse case); (c) then 15-20 minutes to staff to provide any updates or thoughts; (d) (15 to 20) minutes for public comments; and finally (e) 40 minutes for fully informed discussion & conclusion if any is needed.  

 At the past meeting, it was agreed, the 2/20/2017 meeting will be devoted to the partial IRS utility sale to FPL.  The city councils position is well known, but there is no guarantee of the partial sale price yet or that a full sale will occur. Therefore, understanding the difference between this “on-the-table price & the city’s original “asked price” may be advisable. 

At the meeting of 3/13/2017; the discussion of the full sale will be on the agenda.  

If any of you, or staff, have any input, communicate through staff.  I look forward to working with you.  

glen

 

4 comments

  1. I suggest that before Mayor Moss sends another directive to any board,she should consult with the person who was instrumental in getting her elected, namely the mayor of Indian River Shores. He might caution her against being so heavy handed and over stepping her limited authority as mayor. He might also caution her against using the word “I” so often.

  2. The word spreading through City Hall is that Moss fancies herself as a little dictator, or at best, the chief executive officer of the City, which she is not. I received the following comment through LinkedIn this morning.

    Karen Dodson: “Let’s give the benefit of doubt she only had good in her heart

    Reply: “Karen, How do you know what’s in her heart? What we know is that she has a greatly exaggerated sense of the role of the mayor in Vero Beach’s city manager-council form of government, and is acting well outside the scope of her authority. We also know that 70 percent of her campaign contributions came, not from Vero Beach residents, but from residents of Indian River Shores. Further, she was introduced last fall by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as being “a member of the Shores team.” What we DON’T know is if and when Moss will begin to act in the best interests of the people of Vero Beach.

  3. Karen Dodson: Mark over the years I came to grip the following: Father Mike said on Sunday to me we can not control what others do so we need to keep our eyes open to the reality we live in. My reply was I totally understand the lesson, however, life is way too short and for me I do have my eyes wide open I would rather live what short life we live in I’d rather be in my dream world than those who lie I’m their reality I truly only see the beauty in people it is what and who makes up me if like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt it’s not a bad world it puts a burning smile on my face and it is a real smile.

  4. Karen, Seeing the good in people is one thing, seeking ONLY the good in people, well, that is to lose the dialectic tension between love and justice. If you want to make reference to religion, then I would suggest you consider the fact that God is always just in God’s loving and loving in God’s justice. If God saw only the good in us, then there would be no need for redemption, or salvation. To put it another way, sanctification never leaves justification beyond. We never achieve perfection. We are never without reliance upon God’s mercy. From a purely secular perspective, the fact is that there are corporate (vs. individual) consequences when leaders act as Moss is apparently acting now.

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