City of Vero Beach fails good government test

COMMENTARY

Editor’s note:  The following commentary was issued today as a statement by The Civic Association of Indian River County.

On October 24, 2017, the City Council of Vero Beach committed fraud on its citizens, exuded malfeasance in its actions, and proved a complete lack of regard for its fiduciary duties to the taxpayers.

This Council threesome has been on a dangerous path since Laura Moss declared herself “queen” — no really, that’s what she said — and nobody stopped her usurping the power of the entire City. She took over all contact with both Florida Power & Light and the Florida Municipal Power Authority, in spite of her complete lack of expertise of any kind. She improperly issued a gag order on all city employees who, should they have spoken out, lived in fear of losing their job.  This is in spite of the fact that she, by City Charter, should not have any role in who is fired and hired other than the three Charter officers. She did the same to the advisory committees and boards, all of whom are there to assist in city business.  Many on those committees have served for years, have deep and educated expertise to offer. We would hope that all citizens would be alarmed by this blatant disregard for sunshine.

Thereby ignoring the law, rejecting legal procedures, and walking blindly to the instructions of FPL [who had fully funded their election to the Council], the majority managed to sell our valuable asset for pennies on the dollar. 

This parade of insults and indignities has been viewed by our Board and membership with deep dismay, and many citizens are expressing anger that the Council and City Manager allowed this to occur. If this was a good deal and a beneficial contract, it would have been open to the public in every way, widely applauded by experts, and it would have survived close scrutiny by financial teams.  It would have been an open, legally sound process used to bring it to fruition.

The public relations tsunami from FPL, who has spent millions and millions of dollars outside of the contract in order to get it completed, is a miracle of unprovable claims and unverifiable promises.

We would like to remind everyone that the Civic Association, back in the 1980s, supported a sale of our utility if a good deal could be accomplished. We stand by that position today.  Not one iota of evidence exists, however, to show how the City will survive a more than 25% cut in income. The county residents should care about this, but many believe they will get lower electric bills and so care nothing about the details. There is not one line, not one word, in that contract that guarantees lower bills, nor anything that prevents FPL from adding all those expenses back onto our utility bills as added fees even if the base rate is lower that what we now pay.

We in the Civic Association are aghast that anyone living in our city, much less anyone in our area, wouldn’t want this deal to be scrutinized and the people involved, residents and ratepayers alike, protected.

We are concerned, we have critical questions about our future, and we are outraged that all legalities were dismissed through sham promises backed by absolutely no facts nor proof.

What now will be possible, or what can residents do who feel that our existence as a city, as a clean, tree-lined and well-looked-after town, is uncertain.  We will be contemplating that question, and wondering if once again three pretenders will have been allowed a train wreck on their watch.

5 comments

  1. Wonderful timing! Where has the Civic Association been for the past months? Why call out the Fire Department after the house has burned down?

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim. Your incisive quotes are about a year late in this discussion. Your support has been non-existent. I have never seen a comment on this medium from the county to support the true citizens of VB in this regard.

    My wife and I are amazed that most of what went on here was not illegal. Common sense would indicate that FPL buy the voters and buy the council to the detriment of the city. I would have hoped that our “bigger brother” would have had the knowledge and muscle to keep the city from being sold at the slave market.

    Thank you for your “after the fact” comments. It is nice to know that someone belatedly appreciates how the city has been violated.

  3. I have pointed out the fraud more than once. The mayor together with the vice mayor has had me removed from meetings by police in what amounts to criminal acts against me and the citizens of Vero Beach in their efforts to conceal the truth. Democracy dies in the dark.

  4. No manner of reasonable conversation persuaded city council to seek legal or financial advice. Most, if not all, were elected promising a full sale of Vero’s electric system. They follow the political principles and philosophies of once elected that they are the decision makers who do not need to seek out prudent, familiar and sound wisdom from the public.

    No politician, once elected, is automatically endowed with every insight for prudent governance. One would hope elected officials seek counsel while deciding upon important matters for our city; including showing respect for the employees who were hired based on their capacity to add to the betterment of the city.

    This council chooses not to seek input or legal advice from even our own city attorney; and he was not even privy to read all the documents before they were placed at the dais for city council.

    There is not much citizens can do if city council prefers to lean on its own understanding and not seek legal and professional advice or counsel. Until questionable action is taken-voted on by city council, citizens have no recourse but to be patient, follow the decision-making process the city council has chosen, and know the legal recourse to submit concern to legal authorities about the action.

    A letter was sent to city council in January of this year. Mayor Moss chose to put it under her matters and disparaged those who represented the points of concern in that letter. The city council chose not to discuss the matter any further, allowing Moss to continue with her path of silencing any who were considered opposition.

    Representatives from many groups and individuals have all spoken out and city council chose not to heed any concerns or warnings.

    We have also been barraged by a press who has completely bought and sold the FPL position.

    The public knows only what it has been selectively told.

    With who we have on the city council, and based on our charter, there is not much else to do except recall, sue, or elect someone else.

  5. For Vic and Jim, we’ve been very active when possible, as Ken Daige points out above. Certainly understand your frustration. As our Board has also been writing and speaking up as often as possible, we find ourselves as frustrated as everyone else who has to watch this happen.

    Without Inside Vero, we wouldn’t have a voice at all.

    Lynne Larkin

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