“In addition to selling Vero Electric, Zudans and Howle have expressed support for handing the City’s water and sewer utility over to the County. Zudans has also advocated turning responsibility for public safety within Vero Beach over to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. To get elected, both candidates may cynically, but only temporarily, backtrack from these positions.”
During the most recent legislative session, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board described the Florida Legislature as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida Power and Light.” Sadly, the same may soon be said of the Vero Beach City Council.
A flood of political post cards funded by FPL began arriving in local mail boxes today. Supporting candidates Harry Howle and Val Zudans, the mailers were prepared and paid for by Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow, a political action committee that recently received a $50,000 cash infusion from FPL.
Considering the amount of money the state’s largest utility is investing to electing Howle and Zudans, Clean Sweep’s post cards will likely continue flooding local mail boxes between now and Nov. 7.
Last fall, Clean Sweep raised $106,000 from Indian River Shores residents and from FPL to support Council candidates Laura Moss and Lange Sykes. FPL gave $50,000 to the effort. (In their individual campaigns, Moss and Sykes received nearly all of their contributions from Shores residents. Elected almost exclusively on outside money, the two Council members now claim to be acting in the best interests of the people of Vero Beach.)
In other previous local elections, FPL has supported Howle, Pilar Turner, and Tracy Carroll. Working through local utility activist Glenn Heran, FPL also spent more than $100,000 pushing for passage of two local referendums on the proposed sale of Vero Electric.
In addition to selling Vero Electric, Zudans and Howle have expressed support for handing the City’s water and sewer utility over to the County. Zudans has also advocated turning responsibility for public safety within Vero Beach over to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. To get elected, both candidates may cynically, but only temporarily, backtrack from these positions.
The “fine” folks at FPL could not care less about any of these issues, or about what it will take to maintain a viable City after the sale of Vero Electric. Having already told investors FPL can grow its customers base by acquiring municipal utilities, the head of FPL, “Little Eric,” must now find some way to deliver, even if doing so means supporting candidates for the Vero Beach City Council like Moss, Howle, Sykes and Zudans. They are all loyal to FPL and are committed to the sale of Vero Electric, but are otherwise without any vision for the City’s future. For her part, Moss turned out to be a tyrant. Sykes appears barely sentient, certainly not substantive.
It should be no surprise that Howle, Moss and Sykes are asking voters to approve a change to the City Charter that would lengthen Council terms from two year to three years. This change will give FPL and other outside interests 50% more for their money.
The voting public has a right to know when a major corporation seeking to do business with the City invests so heavily in electing Council candidates that will do its bidding. Disclosure laws were written to provide transparency in campaign finance, but these laws are of little benefit if the press fails to report campaign contributions.
Last year, when FPL and Shores residents essential bought two seats on the Vero Beach City Council, the island weekly and the Press Journal remained silent – as if they were observing a self-imposed news blackout. The island weekly, of course, is beholden to Shores interests. Could the Press Journal’s silence have anything to do with the fact that the newspaper’s publisher at the time is married to an FPL executive? Let the reader beware!
Given that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, there seems little reason to expects that enough Vero Beach voters will wake up to what is happening to their city to prevent this FPL-funded train wreck. I certainly hope I am wrong about this, for the 2017 election may prove to be one of the most consequential in the City’s history.
A half truth amounts to a lie, and FPL is full of them
Hiding behind Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow, FPL is again clearly seeking to “buy” seats on the Vero Beach City Council, and is again doing by trading in half truths.
Since all of Clean Sweep’s $50,000 in contributions over the past year have come from FPL, the group is essentially a political arm of the utility giant. So, let’s call it like it is. The claims being made by Clean Sweep are claims being made by FPL.
What Clean Sweep/FPL is careful not to say is that its chosen candidates, Howle and Zudans, are not only in favor of selling the full electric system to FPL, but are also enthusiastic supporters of signing a purchase and sale agreement that will obligate the City to a partial sale, if a full sale proves impossible.
Why has the Finance Commission advised the Council not to pursue a partial sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores Customers? This is a question voters should ask themselves before supporting candidates who are committed to carving up Vero Electric.
Quite simply, a partial sale would lead to higher electric rates for the remaining customers of Vero Electric.
In truth, a vote for Howle and Zudans is not really a vote for lower electric rates, because every viable candidate in this year race supports a sale of the full electric system to FPL. Those same candidates also seem inclined to support a partial sale, not because they believe it will benefit everyone, but because giving the Shores and FPL what they want seems the only way of getting their dirty money out of Vero Beach politics.
The difference between the candidates is not where they stand on the electric sale, but where they will come down on selling the water and sewer system to the County, or on closing down the Police Department and handing that responsibility over to the Sheriff’s Office, or on adequately funding infrastructure maintenance and projects to help save the Lagoon.
What Clean Sweep/FPL won’t tell you is that a vote for Howle and Zudans is a vote to begin taking steps that will eventually force Vero Beach to allow itself to be absorbed by the County. Howle and Zudans don’t want to “Keep Vero Vero.” They would just as soon see unified local government.