FPL puts $100,000 into ‘Clean Sweep’ campaign to elect Howle and Zudans

In the current Vero Beach municipal election, Florida Power and Light has invested $100,000 to support City Council candidates Harry Howle and Val Zudans.

In 2013, Glenn Heran headed an electioneering communication organization that supported Tracy Carroll’s re-election. The ECO, Citizens for a Better Future, was funded almost exclusively by FPL.
COMMENTARY

“Though these political contributions are public record, Vero Beach’s local newspapers, the island weekly and the Press Journal, have failed to inform Vero Beach residents of this brazen takeover of City government.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Howle – Supported by FPL

Zudans – Supported by FPL

Apparently Florida Power and Light believes Vero Beach City Council candidates Harry Howle and Val Zudans can be counted on to protect the company’s interests as it takes over Vero Electric. If not, why would the utility giant invest $100,000 with a political action committee, Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow, to essentially “buy” for Howle and Zudans two seats on the City Council?

FPL essentially funded Tracy Carroll’s bid for reelection back in 2013.
Moss – Supported by FPL

This is not the first time outside money has dominated a local election. Last fall, nearly all of the campaign contributions received by Laura Moss and Lange Sykes came from 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 Clean Sweep, which last year took in $100,000 from FPL. Though these political contributions are public record, Vero Beach’s local newspapers, the island weekly and the Press Journal, have failed to inform Vero Beach residents of this brazen takeover of City government.

Sykes – Also supported by FPL

This year, in addition to $100,000 raised from FPL, Clean Sweep has received another $19,000, most of from Indian River Shores residents.

Together, wealthy Shores residents and the state’s largest investor owned utility, are now calling the shots in what has become Vero Beach’s broken democracy.

Contributions to Clean Sweep:

 

22 comments

  1. I have no objection to FPL’s contribution to those running for city council. I have no vote or say in whoever is elected. The new Council should abide by the city’s own voters who did vote to sell the utility.

    Having no vote in the city, but exposed to a rate greater than FPL I welcome a change in a new power provider.

  2. The people of Vero Beach have never voted to approve a partial sale of the Indian River Shores portion of Vero Electric. This partial sale is a contingent provision of the contract just signed between the City and FPL. If you are a customer of FPL living outside Indian River Shores, a partial sale would mean higher electric rates for you. Quite simply, a partial sale would not in the best interests of the customer of Vero Electric, or the people of Vero Beach. A partial sale, however, would benefit FPL and Indian River Shores residents, which is why they have poured so much money into “buying” control of the Vero Beach City Council.

  3. Dear Neighbors, for years now I have financially supported the City of Vero Beach with my purchase of your Amps and Volts. I need a break. Both Howle and Zudans in my estimation are good people, and I trust both of them for their political platforms concerning the City. I do know Dr. Zudans, and I will publicly say that he is a candidate with a big heart and a love for the City. He is also brilliant as a surgeon, and his win will be an incredible boost for the City Council of Vero Beach.

  4. Larry, according to records obtained from the City Clerks’ office through a public records request, your electric bill for the month of August was $337.92 for 2655 kilowatts of power, or 12.7 per kilowatt hour. In 2013, you paid Vero Electric $385.92 for 2760 kilowatts of power, or 14 cents per kilowatt hour. In 2009, the year everyone wants to claim is still with us, you paid $540.94 for 3363 kilowatts of power, or 16 cents per kilowatt hour.

    August 2009 – $540.94

    August 2013 – $385.92

    August 2017 – $337.76

    Currently, Vero Electric’s rate for 2500 kWh is $317.02. FPL’s BASE rate is $268.33. However, FPL assesses peaking charges, so you rate may be higher with FPL depending on when you use your power. Also, FPL’s rates will be going up soon based on approvals the company has already received from the Florida Public Service Commission. Additionally, as a customer of FPL you will have the opportunity to pay storm recovery charges resulting from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, and for who knows what else might come along.

    By this time next year, the rate difference between Vero Electric and FPL for 2500 kWh will likely be closer to $317.02 vs. $285, for a difference of $32 per month – and that assumes you will not be using any of your power during peak times. At a difference of $32 per month, you stand to save more like $384.24 a year. Interestingly, if you lived in the unincorporated area of the south barrier island, where Stephen Flaherty lives, you would pay an additional $20 or so a month as a franchise fee to the County. That would leave you with a savings of $12 a month, or $144 a year, for a customer using 2500 kWh of power. That comes to a savings of just 3.8 percent.

    Larry, you know quite well FPL is currently funding a political action committee that is placing advertising claiming the rates savings will be 20 percent. Quite simply, those claims are outright lies.

  5. For all those living outside the city who object to supporting the city,stop using our “free” parks, “free” beaches and anything else you use for “Free.”

  6. Mr. Church, you are correct in saying nothing in life is free-your implication.
    Since the City is using the utility as a profit generating enterprise to fund its operations and its customer base has approximately 60 percent made up of non-residents. You are implying that we, non resident are not making a contribution to the City’s operation. Why discriminate against the non residents with additional fee, tax or whatever you call it? Does it cost the City more to deliver power to us non residents than to the city residents? Make whatever arguments you want, but this is rank discrimination against the non resident despite any legal rulings.

  7. Almost surely, the biggest mistake city leaders ever made was to extend utility service to ungrateful residents in the unincorporated areas. It should be remember that initial development in those areas would otherwise have been impossible, unless, of course, people would have been content burning candles and using outhouses. What I find illogical is your implicit assertion that the City should be providing you utility services at cost, or that the reasonable profits earned as a return on investment should be used for some porpoise other than to help provide basic municipal services. If you argue that the City’s rates are too high, how do you account for the fact that several of the state’s investor owned utilities have been approved by the Florida Public Service Commission to charge higher rates than those of Vero Electric?

  8. Yes it was a mistake. When I purchased my home I; 1990, FPL was the power provider. City then agreed with FPL to “square the service areas”. This happened with little notice to the non resident home owners. Then City started packing on additional charges. It was said by some, we were paying a charge to have the privilege to use city power. Did we have a say? No!

  9. Reading your rebuttal again. You state that FPL was governed by the State Utility Commission is true. But who governs the City? NADA.

  10. Vero Electric is managed by City Staff, under the direction of the City Council, which sets rates. The utility must comply with Federal and state regulations. There was a time when the City was governed by a city council elected by the residents of the City. Now the City is run by a Council majority answering to Indian River Shores leaders and to FPL executives. Quite simply, Vero Beach’s municipal government is a failed democracy.

  11. Another point just came to mind. City property taxes are supposed to support municipal services. Profits from the additional charges to the non resident serves to lower the residents taxes. It seems to me the return on investment in a non issue which should be the same to both the City and non residents. The point is, Is it fair as a customer to be discriminated against because of a line separating entities?

  12. We do have an agreement. City government has been for several years a failed democracy. Thank you!

  13. Let’s see City Electric helps fund parks, beaches, police etc. FPL profits help big salaries.
    By the way there is no difference in rates in City Electric between city and county residents. The COUNTY does get a franchise fee of 6% of county resident’s bills. The city collects it for the county. Why don’t you ask your county commissioners to do away with that?

  14. I do agree with Jeanette White 100%…..and Dwight Baker 105%: Mark even though you spent time in making a good case for my past rates ( Very, very high) I am ecstatic that I will soon be free of Vero Electric, even if I save $1.00 per month. If my attitude sounds poor, than “Ban” me from your restaurants and businesses, I will then eat and shop in Sebastian and save not only on the electric, but also on the food and services!

  15. Mark, I’ve never commented on your blog in the past. It’s hardly worth my time. The whole thing is infantile to say the least. I’ve always wondered why someone in Santa Fe, NM, or wherever you live today, has any interest in what happens here. You must have an income from some special interest group; otherwise, why bother?
    Let’s get down to brass tax though. A vote was taken tonight. This vote was so overwhelmingly in favor of Val Zudans and me, one can’t help but understand it is a mandate to carry out the sale you have so “honorably and without bias” opposed for so long. My guess is that you will be living in a far off State with no backing in very short order. Perhaps in a small cardboard box?
    Clearly this is a “sign” you should find another means of income. The people have spoken. You, on the other hand, will only sound as though you are maligned in some way henceforth. Do us all a favor. Shut down your ridiculous, nonsense, blog and go find a “ray of hope”. We will be fine without you. That is a certainty.
    While you’re at it, say hello to John and Kathy for me. I’ve known them for many years. They are upstanding individuals. One cannot say so much for you.

  16. Harry, The people have spoken? It is more accurate to say that big corporate money has spoken – specifically the $100,000 Florida Power and Light spent to “buy” a Council seat for Mr. Zudans, and to “buy” your re-election. Now the corporate utility giant “owns” four seats on the Council, making the Vero Beach City Council a wholly owned subsidiary of FPL. Harry, if anyone is beholden to special interests it is you, and Mr. Zudans, along with Laura Moss and Lange Sykes. Let us not forget that they, too, were elected with more than $100,000 in support from FPL. All this election proves is that corporate money has so corrupted the electoral process — from Vero Beach to Washington — that our is now a broken, failed democracy.

    As an aside, the term is not “brass tax,” but brass tacks.

  17. I’m curious, Larry. Do you have an opinion on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision?

  18. Yes I do, unfortunately I have separated the support dollars from the candidates who I know to be good people, and I am happy they won. I do not agree with Harry’s lashing out at you for I have known you for many years and I feel that the “Blog” is an excellent and “Free” way for all of us to express ourselves. There is no question in my mind that you are a wonderful voice for so many, and I can see both sides of the electric situation. In my case what I do not separate is the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision for this more or less sanctions Russia’s involvement in our elections, now that is really something to worry about!

  19. Larry, I appreciate your kind comments. Would you agree that the voters of Vero Beach at least deserved to know that the vast majority of the advertising they were seeing in support of Howle and Zudans was paid for by a corporation with business before the City? This information was available through public record, but each voter should not be expected to do such research. Isn’t there a role for the free press to fulfill in at least making an effort to fully inform the public?

  20. Larry, Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections is indeed something to worry about. I am equally concerned about they degree to which Republican and Democratic corporatists have cozied up to monied interests, so much to that they no longer represent the interests of the people. Regardless of how you fell about who won yesterday’s Vero Beach municipal election, the fact remains that the campaign was dominated by money contributed by a corporation with business before the City. That corporations are free to use their considerable financial resources to essentially buy candidates and influence, if not control the political process – from City Hall to the State House to Washington D.C. — is, I believe, the greatest threat to our democracy. What happened in Vero Beach yesterday is just one small chapter in a much larger and tragic narrative.

  21. I wholeheartedly agree with you Mark, but so much has gone on in our Nation that the lobbyists and corrupt politicians have become the obstacles to overcome. On one hand there is a lack of nationalism which permits these “vultures” to prey, ant yet there is sincere survival of a great city that also forces us to overpay for utilities, and that is also wrong. I hope that if the bird falls in love with the fish they will be able to build a proper home, but yet there has not been closure or a solution to the electric dilemma until yesterday, I hope that the bird and fish find a proper solution, perhaps in finding new comparable friends.

  22. Vero Beach has entered a post-truth era. Post-truth: Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

    Larry, I strong suspect that when you finally receive your FPL bills you will be greatly disappointed.

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