Howle, Moss and Sykes are selling out the people of Vero Beach

Lange Sykes' acceptance of so much outside money in his latest campaign, (90%), suggest that, if elected, he may have an extremely difficult time balancing loyalty to his patrons against his fiduciary responsibility to the people of Vero Beach.

“The troika seems determined to make the best deal possible for FPL and for Shores interests.”


Imagine the suspicions that would be raised if a U.S. presidential candidate received 70 percent of their total campaign contributions from Russian oligarchs.

The Russians don’t care about public policy in Vero Beach, Florida, but Indian River Shores oligarchs sure do. They contributed heavily to the campaigns of Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, and they joined Florida Power and Light in raising more than $100,000 to fund a political action committee to support Moss and Sykes in last fall’s municipal election. (Moss received 70 percent of her campaign funds from Shores residents. Sykes took in 90 percent of his campaign funds from the Shores.)

It should come as no surprise, then, that Howle, Moss and Sykes are shutting down citizen input and are muzzling the City’s advisory boards, refusing to allow consideration or review the proposed sale of Vero Electric, or to evaluate FPL’s offer. The troika seems determined to make the best deal possible for FPL and for Shores interests. You have got to believe Howle, Moss and Sykes assume the people of Vero Beach are not paying attention to what is happening in their local government.

Howle, Moss and Sykes are counting on voter apathy. That is why they are willing to accept FPL’s initial offer without negotiation. That is why they are pushing ahead to conclude the deal without review by the Utilities and Finance Commissions. And that is why they are willing to commit the City to a partial sale of just Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers, if a sale of the full system cannot be completed.

Quite simply, Howle, Moss and Sykes do not represent the interests of the people of Vero Beach. Rather, they are beholden to Shores patrons and to FPL. Given these conflicted motives, this deal cannot be considered an arms length transaction. A group of concerned citizens should ask the courts to consider whether Howle, Moss and Sykes are breaching their fiduciary responsibility to the City and to the residents of Vero Beach.


  1. Having lived in Indian River County about 30 years or so, I’ve seen numerous Councils make many decisions. For the most part, those have been in the Sunshine and made with not so much interference from outsiders. Until now. Those on the Council are assuming it doesn’t matter what the rest of us think. Our input isn’t important–just get ‘it’ done. But WE will all have to face the music eventually. It is great to live in the moment, but consequences do pop up in the future and some of them will be harder to swallow and maybe impossible for us to fix. I hope those who have the upper hand will rethink what their decisions will truly mean to us all. If higher utility rate and higher property taxes seem likely, what has been gained by giving control to outsiders? Those who receive power from COVB will be affected because COVB has been generous with its funds in providing for its beaches; has a dog park; museum; a professional theatre; excellent police force; numerous parks; a marina; hard-working employees; and name recognition….plus downtown art walk; events on the beach; and a party downtown…..

  2. It seems the Vero Troika is really a team of Three Blind Mice chasing after some smelly cheese. The voters of Vero will be the mouse trap when they realize that much higher taxes will result if this sale to FPL is completed under the initial terms presented.

  3. Sadly keeping this beast of a company will still increase rates and taxes quite substantially as time goes by because they’ll have too, dont be fooled. The outside plant as it is [is] antiquated & needs upgrading badly, that in itself will cost millions, millions they dont have. Combine that with increased employee costs, pensions and a council who cant manage themselves will lead to costly increases in rates & taxes… In my opinion, FPL has made a bonafide offer, its very fair for many reasons & face it, theyre not the ones who ran this beast aground & let the outside plant slowly implode as it has nor did they negotiate such a terrible deal with Orlando, our council did… In this deal FPL is assuming all the outside plant upgrades costs which by the way is extremely expensive, thats a fact. FPL is taking on all employees, their healthcare & pensions and they do it with No rate increase to us the consumer, unlike if COVB kept it, I still believe its in the best interests for all the customers, their rates will be reduced by some 30% now, thats now & in very short order they’ll be on a more reliable, cost effective transmission system. Vero’s Council & Mayor couldnt run a popcorn stand and make a profit, one only needs to see the $7 million debt in their self funded healthcare debacle, ignoring the outside plant to the tunes of Millions of $$$$ show is that its just another failed attempt at running any business.. I see both sides, the pros and the cons clearly, I just have more faith in FPL frankly than I have in these 3 Con artists as well as all of our elected Con artists, seems lately that none of them have the moral or ethical compass we all deserve. .. Last, I am not buying that if this is sold, that a major increase in taxes is either inevitable or even required, I believe thats a scare tactic but hey lets face facts, as it is now, our taxes are rising anyway, theyve been going up consistently anyway while services are being cut all over Vero in so many areas.. That is a clear sign of poor management & poor decision making in several areas, another subject for another day.. But lets face it facts speak for themselves, imho……

  4. Sadly, Jim, you seem to have your facts wrong. First, the “outside plant,” as you call it, has been decommissioned, is not longer in use, and will eventually be brought down. Second, the rate differential between Vero Electric and FPL is below 10 percent, not the 30 percent you claim. Third, Vero Beach’s rates continue to come down, just as FPL’s are on the rise, with further rate increases already approved by the Florida Public Service Commission. Your comment is a sad example of just how uninformed and misinformed so many people are these days.

  5. You cannot cut $6 million dollars in income ,if Vero Electric is sold, without a significant tax increase to city residents. Also, the city has been notified by OUC that it will take more than $20 million to settle with them. The three blind mice and many residents are deluded if they really think the sale will better the residents of the city. Higher taxes and possibly lower services will result if the three blind mice carry the day. If the deal is so good, why muzzle the boards created to evaluate the sale?

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