FPL-sponsored Council majority pushing power sale contract forward without review

COMMENTARY

“I insist that the Finance Commission be allowed to do their job.” – Richard Winger

MARK SCHUMANN

Including the $50,000 Florida Power and Light recently gave to a political action committee supporting candidates Harry Howle and Val Zudans, the company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars sponsoring City Council candidates who will agree to its every demand as it seeks to takeover Vero Electric.

FPL’s investment is paying off. Council members Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, all of whom occupy seats on the Council that were essentially “bought” by FPL, seem determined to speedily accept without any negotiation on the City’s behalf, and without any review by the Finance and Utilities Commissions, a new purchase and sale agreement of some 500 pages.

Howle, Moss and Sykes are pushing through the power sale exactly as FPL would want them to, without serious negotiation and without public review. They are serving FPL quite well, but their actions raise questions about whether they are also serving the people of Vero Beach.

Why the rush to sign the contract before the Nov. 7 Council election? Why the absence of any serious negotiations? Why the determination to prevent the members of Finance and Utilities Commissions from reviewing and discussing the terms of the contract in public?

Yesterday, Finance Commission Chairman Glen Brovont wrote his fellow Commission members, “Given what she (Laura Moss) indicates, I frankly fail to understand why the committee’s public meeting impacts the deal. Unless, of course, there is something within the documents that reading them might highlight. The document will be available on Wednesday. I suggest if you have time, review them as private taxpayers. The public meeting will be the following week.”

Clearly concerned that FPL’s representatives on the Council are about to commit the City to a contract that without full and careful review, Councilman Richard Winger yesterday wrote the following email to the City Clerk.

Tammy,

For the record, other than the original letter of intent, which Mr. Howell and Mrs. Moss said would be negotiated, so far I have received nothing on this sale. I believe this Commission (Finance) is in the same position, and this would be their first look at this sale beyond the LOI and the verbal announcement at City Council that the substation was to be moved across the street.

Therefore, I must protest this, and point out the acting mayor has no authority to prevent a Commission from meeting and vetting what is perhaps the most important financial contract this City will ever have. I insist that the Finance Commission be allowed to do their job.

Please pass this to City Council first thing in the morning.

Despite the concerns raised by Brovont, Winger and others, FPL’s representatives of the Council – Howle, Moss and Sykes – are pressing ahead with plans to sign the contract before Nov. 7. They seem confident the public is either not paying attention, or does not care. Judging from how few members of the public are attending Council meetings to raise concerns about the process, it appears that the FPL-sponsored majority may be exactly right in its assessment of the public’s apathy and/or ignorance about how they and their City are about to be railroaded by the state’s largest investor owned utility.

Moss flits around Vero Beach from event to event acting like a monarch, and claiming to have magically brought the power sale together. Far away in Tallahassee and Orlando a very different story has been developing.

Why is the Florida Municipal Power Agency now willing to release Vero Beach from its contractual obligations for a fraction of its original cost estimates.  Could it be that some months ago a leader in the Florida Legislature passed the word to the FMPA that it needed to find a way to “solve the Vero Beach problem,” or the Legislature would do it for them.

Another hurdle to the deal was the Orlando Utilities Commission’s insistence on enforcing a provision in its contract with Vero Beach that would have added another $30 million in cost to the deal. Why did the OUC suddenly agree to accept $20 million, rather then the nearly $50 million it was due? Could it be that Gov. Rick Scott placed a call Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer insisting that he persuade the OUC to find a way to help make the deal happen?

FPL spends millions of dollars each year contributing to the campaigns of local and state leaders and to the political action committees supporting them. When it comes time to call on the state’s most powerful leaders to do some arm twisting, FPL gets what FPL wants.

 

3 comments

  1. The contempt shown by the 3 on the Council for following some element of commonsense procedure–and openness to the public…….is beyond belief! Enough!

  2. Why have a Finance Committee if the mayor and some council members don’t want to hear what they have to say? I trust this committee ,their views and knowledge on the sale to FPL,so why not allow their expertise into the record ? Many of us ,who have not studied this issue, depend on their views. With all the money spent on mailers by FPL in support of Howle and Zudans ,one might question their “hush and rush” tactics. I have an uneasy feeling we all might regret some portions of this contract, and that will be forever.

  3. The citizens apathy is going to cost the city and future residents tremendously. As a lineman who has worked for the city for 31years the concept of the sale completely baffles me. They are giving up a everything for the false hope of a modest savings on their light bill. It’s unbelievable that you have major corporations Walmart,Homedepot,Lowes,CVS, etc etc all contributing to the city’s coffer and this council wants to throw that away and send the profits from the sale of power to wall street and leave the city with a 5 million dollar annual deficit.They are giving up local control. What happened at that nursing home down south would never happen on covb electric because we are small and local. The hospital, school board, piper all have my number and you can always get through to someone in times of need. Where are the visionaries? In this times of increased hurricane activity we could be burying more of our lines We could have been the only community to be 100% underground electric. We could have applied for grants or bonds and built a solar field. It’s sad to think all that’s gone because of a handful of malcontent’s ideology.

Comment - Please use your first and last name. Comments of up to 350 words are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s