MPO gets scolded by its newest member, Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss

COMMENTARY

Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss (foreground) addresses the MPO.

MILT THOMAS

The regularly scheduled June 19 Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting began as scheduled but abruptly veered into controversy. The MPO is the legislative agency responsible for transportation planning in the urbanized area of Indian River County. It’s 12 voting members represent the local governments within the county. City of Vero Beach City Councilmember Laura Moss was attending her first meeting.

Twenty minutes into the meeting reviewing projects,  Moss proceeded to complain, “On this list of projects there’s not a single one that benefits the City of Vero Beach. My question is how is that allowed to happen with all these millions and millions of dollars being spent and virtually none of it goes to the City of Vero Beach?”

Phil Matson, the County’s MPO staff director, responded that the list of projects includes $16 million dollars  for the intersection of 43rd Avenue and SR60 and $6 million for A1A resurfacing.

Moss then doubled down on her complaint, stating she knows “There’s been bad blood between the county and the city” and that “This (list of projects) is almost hostile to the city.”

She punctuated her comments with finger wagging and table pounding, fortunately with the palm of her hand and not her shoe.

County Commissioner Susan Adams then addressed Moss, saying, “This plan is for improving roadways countywide. The bad blood and FPL you’re talking about has nothing to do with the plan and we probably need to dial that down a little bit so we can have a conversation.”

Moss’s complaint centered on improvements she felt are needed to Aviation Blvd, but not on the project list. County Commissioner Tim Zorc noted that the county “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars designing Aviation Blvd. and a prior (Vero Beach) City Council chose not to sign the crossing agreement at US1 and Aviation Blvd.” He said that was about eight years ago and since then the money was reallocated to other projects. “You just can’t piece the funding back together.”

But Moss continued to insist that Aviation Blvd. must be a priority until MPO chairman and Sebastian City Councilman, Bob McPartland, said, “I appreciate your concern but I’ve been sitting on this board almost six years and the City of Vero Beach hasn’t brought this up in all that time. All of a sudden somebody’s coming in and wants their particular area done, so everyone asks what happened to my projects. To jump in front of the list almost feels like bullying.”

Moss went on to further inflame the situation by stating “Vero Beach Airport adds up to $10 million and Sebastian Airport adds up to $7 million and they aren’t in any way comparable.”

Commissioner Adams interjected, “You are comparing apples to oranges and I don’t appreciate the tone of this conversation.”

County Commissioner Bob Solari then gave Moss a primer on county transportation priorities. “When I came here in 1980 the population of Vero was about 16,500. Thirty-seven years later Vero Beach has about 17,500, one thousand more. In 1980 the county was 56,000 and now it is 142,000. We have roughly 85,000 more people. That is what drives transportation needs.”

He went on to say, “It doesn’t help to come in here with this challenging attitude that we’ve done everything wrong and thank goodness you are here to fix it for us.”

County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan then suggested coming back in a formal presentation about the airport plan and explaining the changes that are needed. “That would be more appropriate than coming here pounding the table and demanding we do something.”

After that diversion the group moved on to handle its regularly scheduled business agenda.

 

3 comments

  1. WOW! Mayor Moss sounds like she takes lessons from political higher-ups! Personally, I don’t appreciate her tone either. The other members of this group appear to handle themselves in an appropriately-civilized manner. We residents of Vero Beach have no reason to expect anything less from our representative.

  2. I want that dumbass incompetent Moss to NAME ONE GOOD THING she has done for the COVB!!!!

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

    The Russians don’t care about public policy in Vero Beach, Florida, but Indian River Shores oligarchs sure do. That’s why they contributed so heavily to the campaigns of Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, and it’s why the joined FPL is raising more than $100,000 to fund a political action committee that supported 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 be no surprise that Howle, Moss and Sykes are shutting down citizen input, and are muzzling the City’s advisory boards. They seem 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 agree to a deal committing the City to a partial sale of just Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores residents, 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 interests and to FPL. That is why this deal cannot be considered an arms length transaction. Some group of concerned and interested 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.

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