Council to discuss mayor’s authority, procedures for boards and commissions
More back and forth yesterday between Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss and Finance Commission Chairman Glen Brovont led to a postponement of Monday’s scheduled meeting of the citizen advisory board.
After failing to persuade Brovont to drop from the agenda any discussion of the proposed sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers to Florida Power & Light, Moss directed the City Clerk to inform the members of the Finance Commission that their meeting scheduled for Monday was cancelled. In response, Brovont wrote the mayor, “With all due respect, please provide a copy of the written statutes, or other supporting legal documents, that authorizes you to cancel a duly called meeting of the finance commission.”
Though City Staff advised Brovont that he was within his rights to hold the meeting as scheduled, he ultimately agreed to postpone the next meeting of the Finance Commission until after the Council can discuss and review commission procedures.
Moss,who was identified last fall by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as being “a member of the Shores team,” won election in November with unprecedented outside support from Indian River Shores residents and from FPL. The “Shores team” member seems determined to do whatever she believes necessary to move forward with the Shore’s requested partial sale, including shutting down any discussion or review by the Finance Commission.
Moss’ action appears to have set up what may be lively and spirited discussion at next Tuesday evening’s City Council Meeting. Councilman Richard Winger has placed on the agenda a review of how the authority of the Mayor differs from that of other Council members. Under Vero Beach’s form of government, the city manager is the chief executive offers, with the mayor’s duties being limited to presiding over Council meetings, representing the City at ceremonial events, and signing documents on behalf of the City.
The Charter’s specific limitations of the mayor’s authority may not be relevant in the current debate, though. If councilmen Harry Howle and Lange Sykes continue to support Moss, and are unwilling to challenge the mayor’s exercise of authority not given her in the Charter, they only recourse may be a recall initiative. How Howle and Sykes vote next Tuesday could depend on what direction they receive from Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, who is seemingly controls Howle, Moss and Sykes.
Like Moss, Howle and Sykes sided with the Shores in the Town’s dispute with the City, and along with Moss they support selling the Shores portion of Vero Electric for the $30 million offered by FPL. (In the recent municipal election, Sykes, like Moss, was supported by a political action committee funded heavily and entirely by FPL and by Shores residents. Sykes received 90 percent of his campaign contribution from Shores residents.)
At the request of Councilman Tony Young, also up for discussion next Tuesday will be roles and procedures for commission and boards. This agenda item is sure to spark a debate over Moss’ direction to the Finance Commission to not discuss, review of comment on the proposed partial sale.
Ironically, on Tuesday’s Council agenda is also a presentation by Press Journal editor Adam Neal. Neal will discuss the Press Journal’s news coverage. Hopefully he will also explain why the Press Journal, which never reported on the unprecedented level of outside money that poured into the campaign accounts of Moss and Skyes last fall. Once can only hope Neal will also explain why the newspaper has yet to report on the growing storm building at City Hall over Moss’ abuse of power.