In the hot seat, Moss seeks to shift blame

COMMENTARY

“‘He was redundant, and that was the key. He was getting redundant,’ Moss said redundantly.” 

“Moss said, ‘Do you want him back in here? How late to you want to stay?'”

“Amazingly, Moss titled her memo to Coment, “Dereliction of Duty.” Moss is either loose with words, does not understand what constitutes “dereliction of duty,” or, to draw attention from her mistakes, is willing to level against the City Attorney a most serious charge.” 

MARK SCHUMANN

City Attorney Wayne Coment
Before election to the Council, Laura Moss herself made frequent appearances during  public comment time.

The list of ways Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss embarrasses herself and the City continues to grow.  Last summer, as Chair of the Utilities Commission, Moss wrote a letter to the head of the Florida Public Service Commission without providing a copy of the correspondence to the City Clerk’s Office. The omission on Moss’s part was a clear violation of City policy. (Ironically, the point of Moss’s letter was to inform the PSC Chair of a position taken by the Utilities Commission that was ultimately not adopted by the Council.  Now on the Council, Moss is quick to point out that members of citizen advisory commissions, such as she was at the time, are not the elected representatives of the people of Vero Beach.)

More recently, since her election to the Council, Moss has overstepped her authority by going around the City Manager to direct staff, by attempting to unilaterally cancel advisory Commission meetings without the knowledge or approval of her fellow Council members, by leading an effort to muzzle all dissenting opinions and legitimate questions about the proposed power sale, by describing herself at the “queen” of Vero Beach, and by refusing to provide documents in her possession which should clearly be part of the public record.

At last Tuesday’s Council meeting, Moss had Vero Beach resident Brian Heady removed from the Council Chambers when he objected to her false claim that the terms of FPL’s pending letter of intent to acquire Vero Electric are “proprietary” information. In fact, the terms of the sale, which supposedly Moss is negotiating, should be made public, not when Moss deems it convenient, but now.

Though some might argue Heady had worn out his welcome at the podium, he still had every right to make his public records request in public.

Councilman Richard Winger tried to help Moss avoid another misstep, but Moss wasn’t taking advice from anyone. “It’s in the small print,” Moss said, pointing to what she believed was her justification for cutting off Heady’s comments.

“Please take your seat, and you are not to return to the meeting,” Moss said, giving contradictory directions.

“I will file suit against the City,” Heady said as he was escorted from the Council Chambers by an officer of the Vero Beach Police Department.

Heady was followed at the podium by Ken Daige. After Daige finished his remarks, City Attorney Wayne Coment said, “Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t hear Mr. Heady called out of order, and therefore he really cannot be removed from the room.”

“He wasn’t removed. He left voluntarily,” claimed Councilman Lange Sykes. “He was just asked to leave the podium.”

Perhaps Sykes was not listening closely when Moss specifically told Heady he was to “not to return to the meeting.”

When advised by Coment that the Council could vote to allow Heady to remain in the meeting, Moss said, “Personally I don’t think he was offering anything additional and I do not wish him to return.”

“You have a lot more items on the agenda that he may want to address,” Coment explained. Moss disagreed with Coment, citing City Code and the City Charter – one or the other. She was not quite sure.

Councilman Tony Young then said, “I think it is appropriate that he be allowed to remain in the room for the additional discussion that is on the agenda.”

Moss said, “Do you want him back in here? How late do you want to stay?”

“Let’s stick to the time limit,” Councilman Harry Howle offered.

Coment had to remind Howle that public comment for agenda items does not have a time limit.

“He was redundant, and that was the key. He was getting redundant,” Moss said redundantly.

“Mrs. Mayor, with due respect, I didn’t find him redundant,” said Winger, adding “Several of his questions never got answered.”

Moss turned to Coment, “What did you advise. Could you repeat it. It’s a little complicated.”

Howle then called for a vote on Young’s motion to allow Heady back into the meeting. “All in favor?,” Howle asked. “All opposed? Hearing none motion passes,” he declared.

At least for a moment, Howle had clearly taken from Moss the role of presiding officer in what had become a chaotic and contentious meeting.

Meanwhile, Heady had already gone home.

Yesterday, Moss wrote City Attorney Wayne Coment, clearly attempting to blame him for the incident.

Moss wrote:

As legal advisor to the City of Vero Beach, please explain the reason that you failed to advise the Council and me in a timely manner at 1:22 PM of the legal requirement regarding Mr. Brian Heady’s being “called out of order”? I asked Mr. Heady to leave the podium then requested six times that he take his seat. You delayed delivery of legal advice regarding same until 1:30 PM, by which time Mr. Heady was no longer present. 

In fact, Moss specifically told Heady not to return to the meeting. She also has the times wrong. It was at 1:25 that Moss gave Heady contradictory direction, telling him to, “Please take you seat, and you are not to return to the meeting.” Coment offered his advice at 1:29 PM, immediately after Ken Daige, the person who followed Heady, had finished his comments.

Amazingly, Moss titled her memo to Coment, “Dereliction of Duty.” Moss is either loose with words, does not understand what constitutes “dereliction of duty,” or, to draw attention from her mistakes, is willing to level against the City Attorney a most serious charge.

3 comments

  1. If ANYONE has worn out their welcome, that would be without doubt, LAURA MOSS!

  2. It takes a cool head–one influenced by a guy Solomon–to survive a City Council meeting. I think it is true that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, Mrs. Moss…..and anyone else who is so cocksure they don’t need (or want) to hear what the public says or asks for. As annoying as Brian Heady might be, he is still a resident of Vero Beach and has a right to ask questions and request information.

  3. “Queen Laura’ has spoken so we must all listen and obey. Only questions putting our ‘queen” in the very best light should be asked and will be answered. Looks like our very own “Earl” over stepped his authority .Sir Sykes might want to listen a little better to what’s being said at the council meetings before he speaks. It’s just my opinion ,but “Queen Laura” must be removed from her self proclaimed throne.

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