Is City delaying release of public records? O’Connor says ‘yes,’ and ‘no’

NEWS ANALYSIS

“In part that is right,” and, “No,” cannot both be accurate answers to essentially the same question.  O’Connor’s equivocation regarding the City’s rationale for not releasing the requested public records until May 16 further suggests City Staff is being pressured by Moss to conduct the public’s business in the shadows.

MARK SCHUMANN

Jim O’Connor

Contradictory answers City Manager Jim O’Connor gave yesterday regarding recent public records requests suggest the City is delaying the release of documents in order not to complicate efforts to negotiate terms of the Vero Electric sale in secret. Mayor Laura Loss claims the information requested is “proprietary.” It is not.

Moss, (who in the most recent election received $50,000 in support from Florida Power and Light), along with members of City Staff and attorneys with the law firm of Carlton Fields have been holding private discussions with FPL representatives on the proposed sale of Vero Electric. According to Moss, members of City Staff, likely O’Connor and Finance Director Cindy Lawson, have been conducting “a thorough review” of the terms of FPL’s pending offer.

FPL is to submit a letter of intent to City Council on May 16. That letter, Moss says, will become a part of the public record this coming Wednesday when it is included in the agenda packet for the May 16 special call meeting.

If the documents are not released until May 16, that will be fully 8 days after the initial request was submitted by Vero Beach resident Brian Heady.

In email correspondence to InsideVero this past Saturday, O’Connor indicated the documents would be made available Monday, May 8. “I believe you will hear from outside counsel Monday what documents they have.” The following day, O’Connor wrote, “Just an update, it may be Wednesday when you hear from our counsel.”

In a follow-up email, O’Connor was asked, “Does this (the delay) have to do with the timing of when FPL’s letter of intent will supposedly be posted as a part of the agenda packet for the May 16 meeting?”

O’Connor wrote, “In part that is right…,” adding that the requested documents would eventually be released.

O’Connor received the following reply, “In the email you sent me this afternoon at 5:35, you seem to be indicating that you and/or other City officials are treating public relations and political considerations as legitimate factors in determining when to release the requested documents. My question is whether or not this is so.” — To which O’Connor responded, “No.”

“In part that is right,” and, “No,” cannot both be accurate answers to essentially the same question O’Connor’s equivocation regarding the City’s rationale for not release the requested public records until May 16 further suggests City Staff is being pressured by Moss to conduct the public’s business in the shadows.

It is the very same kind of backroom dealings that led to such criticism of the City’s initial contract with the Orlando Utilities Commission. Following Moss’s lead, the City seems set to repeat the mistakes of the past.

 

 

One comment

  1. O’Connor was brought in by the Turner, Carrol,Fletcher trio to squash and dismantle the City of Vero Beach ,nobody should be surprised these current bought shills Sykes ,Howle & Moss are just following FPL’s Grand Plan .It remains to be seen just what FPL is doing to enrich O’Connor . Moss has destroyed any hope of open Government in Vero Beach .

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