Burying the truth

In the current Vero Beach municipal election, Florida Power and Light is spending no less than $50,000 to support City Council candidates Harry Howle and Val Zudans. Apparently FPL believes Howle and Zudans can be counted on to protect the company’s interests as it takes over Vero Electric.
COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

Buried in the seventeenth paragraph of an eighteen paragraph story, the Press Journal’s City Hall reporter, Colleen Wilxon, finally today reported that Florida Power and Light has contributed $50,000 in the current electing to support candidates Harry Howle and Val Zudans. (Still unreported by the Press Journal is the $50,000 FPL gave to support Laura Moss and Lange Sykes last year, or the more than $100,000 Indian River Shores residents contributed to support the same two candidates.)

This is not the first time outside money has been used to dominate a local election. Last fall, nearly all of the campaign contributions received by Laura Moss and Lange Sykes came Indian River Shores residents. Moss and Sykes were introduced last year by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as members of what he called “the Shores team.” Moss and Sykes were also supported by a political action committee, Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow, that received all of its more than $100,000 in contribution from Florida Power and Light and from Shores Residents.

The Press Journal’s “analysis” of the timing of the Council’s approval of a contract for the sale of Vero Electric offers different perspectives, but, typically, lacks analysis.  The central question Wixon’s story leaves unasked and unanswered is why it was necessary for the Council to approve a 500-page contract before that highly complex document could be read and thoroughly reviewed by the members of the Council, by the City Attorney, and by the Finance and Utilities Commissions.

Candidate Randy Old is quoted in Wixon’s story as saying that he would have preferred a more thorough public review of the specific terms of the agreement, but that he did not object to the rushed approval of the contract.

Apparently Old’s rational for turning a blind eye to what may well border on malfeasance on the part of the Council is his assumption that the power sale is now less of an issue in the Nov. 7 election.

It is hard to accept that Old really believes the power sale is not still the central, dominant issue candidates are addressing ahead of the Nov. 7 election. The Press Journal and the island weekly both made their endorsements based solely on where their editors believe the candidates stand the power sale. FPL, of course, is pouring no less than $50,000 into making the election all about the power sale, even though the contract to turn over ownership of the power system was signed last week.

Anyone who thinks this election is not still about the power sale is missing the point, or is missing in action. Sure, all of the major candidates support a sale of the full system. And all of them have caved to pressure from the Shores to allow for a partial sale, if the full sale proves undoable. Whether they realize it or not, the real question Vero Beach voters are being asked to settle is which candidates will be making the decisions about if and how to move the City forward beyond the power sale.

These long-term concerns for the City are not, of course, what motivates FPL’s support of Howle and Zudans. FPL is simply looking for Council members who will comply with its ever wish and cave to its every demand as the sale moves forward. Apparently, Howle and Zudans fit that bill.

But which candidates have a vision for Vero Beach, and which have demonstrated a commitment to preserving the quality of municipal services, and thus maintaining, and hopefully improving quality of life? There are other choices besides FPL’s favored sones, including Brian Heady, Megan Hoots, Jay Kramer, and Randy Old, all of whom have shown far more heart for the City and its people than FPL quislings Howle and Zudans.

2 comments

  1. I have been the only voice opposed to this heist. A fair sale would be an open process with terms reviewed and documents available more than just a few hours before the vote. Back room deals hidden from public view should not be allowed to stand unchallenged. Like minded citizens please feel free to contact me. There is still time.

  2. Regardless of who is for or against the sale to FPL, the City is leaving out the non resident city customers. We have no representation what the City is doing. We, non city residents make up approximately 60 percent of the customer base and we pay an additional tax or charge for the privilege to be connected.
    When I purchased my current residence in 1990, FPL was my provider of power. Then the City asked FPL to “square the service areas” without due notification. You can imagine my surprise when I got the first bill.
    I and many others don’t give a hoot who is contributing to the various council candidates. We object to be treated as tentants of the City. We are not motivated by politics; we are motivated by the robbery of our wealth due to lack of representation, plain and simple.
    The residents voted twice to sell the utility system-SO GET ON WITH THE SALE and quit wasting money on high fees of experts and attorneys who are the ones along with the inept council members in the past who were led “down the primrose path”.

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