There seems to be a reluctance on the part of a Council majority to examine the details of FP&L’s offer for our Electric utility. This is difficult to accept.
The last contract was blindly signed by Council members who were not diligent about the terms, specifically to standing contractual obligations. After millions of our ratepayer dollars were later spent on legal actions, the courts confirmed those legally binding contracts. The result was having a contract with FP&L which could not be executed. We are supposed to learn by mistakes and not repeat them.
I have been working for 7 years to complete this sale and I am not stopping now. But it has become problematic.
When I bring up challenges to the successful completion of the sale my comments are routinely interrupted by Mayor Laura Moss who attempts to silence me. Vice Mayor Harry Howle then raises his voice, leans forward, turns towards me and proceeds with accusations that have no basis in fact. Silence. The agenda moves on.
There is also the multiple attempts by Mayor Moss to prevent the Advisory Finance and Utility Commissions from meeting and evaluating the initial offer from FP&L. This is contradictory to her role as a member of the Utility Commission last year when the prior sale contract was in force and when the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) contract was re-negotiated to favorably shorten its duration. She repeatedly affirmed the positive role played by our Utility Commission to advance both the sale and the re-negotiated contractual terms with OUC.
Council does not discuss. Commissions have been prevented from discussing. What is going on here? The worst part of all of this is the fact I even have to ask that question.
It is my intent to see that this sale to FP&L is finally completed and I cannot just sit still when we have no one negotiating on the City’s behalf, no one performing due diligence, and no one addressing a financial impact to the City when this asset is gone. If this sale is to go through with benefit to all parties, we must be negotiating and performing due diligence.
Does not everyone on Council want to pursue the same goals? Sell this Electric Utility and provide for the City’s stable future? Certainly, as sitting Council Members we are capable of discussing this matter. Our Finance and Utility Commissions are equally capable of fulfilling their advisory roles. All of us are here to serve our City and the ratepayers of the Electric Utility.
It is time for all of us, in concert with each other, to bring this matter forward and start our due diligence.
Editor’s note: Richard Winger is a member of the Vero Beach City Council. At the Council’s most recent meeting, Councilman Harry Howle, accused Winger of having “a hidden agenda.” When it comes to hidden agenda’s, Howle certainly never mentions that he, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes were all heavily supported in their campaigns by Indian River Shores residents and by FPL.
In fact, in the most recent election Moss received 70 percent of her campaign funds from Shores residents. Sykes took in 90 percent of his campaign contributions from the Shores. Both were supported by a political action committee that raised and spend more than $100,000, all of it given by FPL and by Shores residents.
The Shores is pushing for a partial sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customers to FPL. FPL is pressing for either a partial sale, or a full sale of the system. FPL CEO Eric Silagy has made it clear to investors that the company’s chances for growth at least partially hinge on successful acquisitions of some of Florida’s municipal utilities, starting with Vero Beach.
If anyone is working with hidden, conflicted agendas, it is Howle, Moss and Sykes. Ironically, Moss began her term as mayor insisting, literally demanding civility. She has since gone on to use time at nearly every Council meeting to attack Winger. With an eye toward the next Council election, Moss is using time during publicly televised Council meetings to politick against Winger.