So much for transparency at Vero Beach City Council

Without providing supporting backup information, Councilman Val Zudans slipped onto the May 15 Council agenda an item he described as simply being for “discussion.” Zudans later admitted his intention was to call for a vote on his proposal to offer a brewery a long-term lease of the Riverhouse located in MacWilliam Park. Later in the meeting, without providing public notice of their plans, Councilmen Harry Howle and Lange Sykes joined Zudans in voting to direct City Staff to work out a lease/concession with Orchid Island Brewery for use of the Riverhouse site.


This excerpt from a previous City Council agenda illustrates the long-held but now abandoned practice of providing available backup information on agenda items, along with adequate and sufficient description of each matter to be discussed and/or considered.
Val Zudans

Florida law requires governing bodies, such as the Vero Beach City Council, to publish in advance agendas of their meeting. The purpose of this required notification is to give the public sufficient opportunity to prepare to address their elected officials on matters of the people’s business.

In the interest of transparency, members of the Vero Beach City Council have until recently also followed a practice of providing available backup information, as well as sufficient description of each agenda item to be discussed and or considered for a vote.

As in Washington, also in Vero Beach norms seem to be changing. Two weeks ago, for example, Councilman Val Zudans essentially slipped onto the Council agenda an item described as a “discussion” of a concession at the Riverhouse by Alden Bing.

Zudans left unclear the fact that Bing is the owner of Orchid Island Brewery. Describing what is being proposed as “a concession,” is at best misleading, for all along what Zudans had in mind was to offer the brewery a long-term lease of the Riverhouse. Finally, Zudans’ agenda item offers no notice that he intended to call for a vote on his proposal to hand over public lands for long-term lease/concession for commercial use, despite Charter provisions prohibiting such a move.

Apparently, with the Howle-Sykes-Zudans majority anything goes.





  1. I believe this all falls under the Sunshine Law….don’t know how they can get away with doing this.

  2. The City Charter provisions clearly state that it has to be some type of concession and no one can tell me that a brewery is a concession business. The only concession that comes from drinking is the fact that when someone is drunk, they concede to stupid behavior and are void of practical, logical and common sense. What I find offensive is that we have Council people who say the following “Charter provisions aside” that’s the first mistake, disregarding or willfully ignoring provisions put in place for the good of our community. Second, when I read “Council members Val Zudans, Harry Howle and Lange Sykes voted to direct City Staff to FIND A WAY to make it possible for the brewery to legally relocate to MacWilliam Park”. This clearly shows a total disregard and discharge of their responsibilities to uphold our Charter Provisions and to do whats best for our community as a whole, instead they’re looking for loopholes and that they buy into the patently false concept that a “Brewery” is a concession business. It’s further offensive that they equated “Beer and Little League Baseball”. I am pro busineess, God knows we need more good businesses here that are higher paying, offer longevity and benefits to their employees as well as the community as a whole. I dont believe a Brewery is the answer especially in this location and particularly if we adhere to our Charter. We have Charter Provisions and rules for a reason. The only way they should be allowed to change our Charter is by public vote. I believe strongly that if we this to happen then we’ve got no need for any rules because it would simply mean that rule’s are made to be broken by the elected. I am disappointed in any Council Person who is looking for loopholes to bypass these provisions. Its a sign of real problems on many levels. If you can ignore the Charter, by finding loopholes to break the rules, you shouldnt be in office imho…

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