The Case of the Missing Florida Municipal Power Agency Minutes

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IN OUR JULY 19, 2015 ARTICLE ON HOW THE FLORIDA MUNICIPAL POWER AGENCY LOST $ 247 MILLION from 2003-2014, we indicated that we had been urged to write a letter to Mr. Guarriello, CEO of FMPA, to seek public records to determine who Vero Beach Board members were during those years and how they voted on various decisions at each meeting.

Bear in mind Vero Beach receives approximately 40% of its electrical power from FMPA. Here is a link to that article:

https://verocommunique.com/2015/07/25/florida-municipal-power-agency-fmpa-responds-to-public-records-request/

We wrote how on July 20 we received an electronic letter from Jody Lamar Finklea, FMPA Assistant General Counsel / Manager of Legal Affairs, indicating the estimated cost to produce those records would be $ 98.98; and that what was perhaps more interesting than the records was that they are not available on FMPA’s website.

If you go to the FMPA website (www.fmpa.com), you do not have access to anything, unless you are a member, and who knows what’s in there? All it provides is FMPA publicity and a value statement that FMPA provides “transparent and effective communication.”

Well, we found out what’s in there.  During a two-hour meeting with Vero Beach City Manager Jim O’Connor and Vero Beach Utilities Member-at-Large, Laura Moss on Friday August 7, we were able to, after considerable poking around, find that the site does indeed post the minutes.  But only to its 31 members.

The way it works is that you click on the year, then click on a committee (e.g. Board of Directors) and then click on “Full Agenda Package.”  Then there are the minutes.

Due to our reporting on the lack of transparency by FMPA in not providing the minutes to the general public; and a push that they should indeed be available by City Counselor Randy Old, the minutes going forward will be now be published on the City of Vero Beach website.

What we need to do now is to go back to City Hall and read the recent minutes of how the FMPA Board recently voted to refinance their liabilities over the “Taylor Swaps” to the tune of approximately $ 2.5 million.  This is an expenditure that, over the life of the refinancing, will be passed along to “all requirements customers,” which includes us in Vero Beach.

What exactly are/were the Taylor Swaps? Were they appropriate for an entity such as FMPA?

Mr. O’Connor was very generous with his time; enlightening and helping us to inform you, as much as we can, about the internals of FMPA. We’ll do more digging.

Meanwhile, this week we will respond to Jody Lamar Finklea, FMPA Assistant General Counsel / Manager of Legal Affairs and indicate that we were able to access the site as a member, thanks to a City of Beach official; comment on why the minutes are not and should be made public in light of their mission of transparency; and that from this point forward the City of Vero Beach will be publishing them on their website.

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