Promoting Informed and Engaged Communities: Reader Comments

Knight Foundation

THE GOAL OF THE KNIGHT FOUNDATION’S JOURNALISM INITIATIVES IS TO PROMOTE “INFORMED AND ENGAGED COMMUNITIES TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY DEMOCRACY.”

One of the reasons we enjoy this is how we engage the community.

In this regard, this section is devoted to all the comments we received since our publication last week.

We have grouped them all together by subject matter and the location where they came from.

GUN CONTROL

“I totally support gun control—USE BOTH HANDS !!!!!!!!!!” (Calverton Park, Missouri)

————————————————————————————————————

12107277_10205155534192831_5029830727062382321_n-2

Woodland, California

————————————————————————————————————

“You know it’s funny we have had guns in the house hold in this country since it was founded. I’m 50 yrs old grew up around guns. Funny how we as a country didn’t start having all these gun problems untill the government took away parents right to discipline there kids. Then all of a sudden we started having kids that don’t mind so let’s call it ADD and all the others. And feed these kids drugs from first grade on. Then take Christian morals away and wonder why you get this society And then you want to blame the gun and punish the average responsible gun owners. That’s really messed up the government created the problem for this reason. The only way to stop it is teach gun safety in school and arm responsible citizens with no Gun safe area’s and nature will straighten it self out!!

Let parents raise their kids with some Christian Morales and teach them some respect. If they learn to respect others and them selves things will change but it starts at home. Quit with all the sex and violence on prime time tv and bring back some old school southern child raising and this problem is gone. Teach kids right from wrong. And that their is a consequence for your actions. Like when we grew up. No school shooting then and all you had to do was walking to the school parking lot. Gun on gun racks in the students vehicle. What’s changed? Not guns or the average citizens that own them.

Look at the real problem and not the one your puppet master wants you to see..”

(Denton, Texas)

————————————————————————————————————

“It is easier to get gun then get a cat you can call it bull if you want
This happen this week we had to go through a back ground check we have 3 dogs 2 goats & 1 cat that died she live here for 12 years so if we have to do the back ground check for the cat why in Sam Hall you people so much against a back ground check for this damn gun.” (Somerville, Tennessee)

HARRY HOWLE: CANDIDATE FOR VERO BEACH CITY COUNCIL

“Harry Howle is a newcomer to Vero Politics. He is funded substantially by FPL and out of town interests.”

Our response: “I just checked VB City council candidates public records for campaign contributions. Harry has not received any money from FPL. In terms of out-of-town interests, Bruce Pitcher, from Maryland contributed $ 100. Fran Beau Sommers Landscape from Wabasso contributed $50. Helen Stone from Palm Beach Gardens contributed $ 500. Those were the only out-of-town contributions.

Then I asked: “Do you suppose FPL, the large organization it is, is pushing cash under the table to Mr. Howle?”

He said: “Nope, either directly or through legal channels. They have done it repeatedly for the last 5 election cycles.” (Vero Beach, FL)

LAURA MOSS:  SENSATIONALISM

Neither of the supposedly “sensational” items give me pause. (Vero Beach, FL)

FLORIDA MUNICIPAL POWER AND LIGHT / ORLANDO UTILITIES COMMISSION / FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT

“Mr. Hardy,

I am know of your web site and check it daily. It is professional and without the vitriol so some others covering the Vero scene. One of which you have written for in the past.

I liked the article of the FPL/FMPA, and would be glad to help you write more on the issue. Several of the issues and amounts you mentioned are a little out of date and the FMPA is disingenuous in their numbers and in their testimony to the state. For all intents and purposes the FPL sale is dead. The story of how and who killed it is an interesting one. You should write it.

I serve on a Vero Beach City Commission and watched the deal come together and watched it fall apart.

Please call me if you want to discuss the utilities issue further.” (Vero Beach, FL)

————————————————————————————————————

“I read the article and thought it was great! 😉

The public now knows how inefficient Vero Electric is and that they want to sell to FPL. They also know that no contract or “new OUC contract” can give us FPL rates. Some forget just how much it means to be paying 30% more for power from Vero vs FPL (ie we lose over $20 million every year), but I think the economic importance of capturing FPL rates is now widely understood.

However, the public is just now beginning to understand that the issue ultimately (and always has) comes down to this:
1) Permanent Territories vs good public policy and competition

Governmental jurisdictions (controlled by its voting populace) like cities, towns, counties clearly have the right to be in the electric utility business and thus choose their own electric provider. I’m not suggesting that governments choosing to get into the electric business is the proper role of government or that it’s a smart decision considering that most government electric utilities in FL can’t compete efficiently with the private sector……. but they have the right. 34 cities are already in it. Winter Park entered the business in 2004 when it purchased its territory back from Progress Energy (now Duke) for roughly $40 million ( Just to give you some perspective on price, Winter Park is a little more than half the size of Vero Electric). South Daytona has considered getting into the business. Thus , if cities have the right to determine their electric provider, then so does the Shores and IR County.

· In 1986 and 1987, The Shores and IRC clearly understood that they were not giving up their rights in perpetuity to their own territory. Accordingly, they set a limit on the number of years in the franchise agreement they gave to Vero Electric (ie 30 years). 30 years is also a reasonable amount of time for a business to invest and receive a return on capital. Why bother to set a limit if Shores and IRC intended to let Vero Electric serve their constituents for eternity?

· No one ought to have the right to or the ability to have or determine electric territories for eternity. Not Vero, Not FPL, Not the County and Not the PSC. At a minimum, those decisions ought to be left to the voters of the local jurisdiction after reasonable periods of time ie every 20 to 30 years. (note deregulation, like TX and other states, allow the individual user to choose. I don’t know enough about how deregulation works, but it would be a significant and unlikely departure from the archaic political system we currently live with where inefficient unregulated price monopolies, like Vero Electric, have permanent right to outside customers)

2) FMPA “evergreen/perpetual” power contracts vs good public policy and competition

· In my opinion, only reason Vero has not sold to FPL is because a government bureaucracy, the FMPA (and those who support Vero staying in the business), does not allow member cities to leave in an organized, rational or equitable method. Furthermore, failure of leadership to confront or solve this FMPA issue, will result in thwarting the public’s will to sell to FPL. As such, leadership can no longer be credible by “saying” they are for the sale if they take no action to exit the FMPA in a rational way and seek the return of the public’s assets.

· FMPA Exit price should (my opinion):

o Not be capricious

o Not be set such that one member city could block the rights of others.

o Not harm any member cities or bondholders who wishes to remain with the FMPA.

o Not force an exiting member city to abandon its assets it has invested with the FMPA since 1978. (ultimately leaving the” last member city standing” at the FMPA the sole owner of ALL FMPA assets and ALL penalty cash paid in by previously exited members)

o Not be limited to selling FMPA assets to only other FMPA member cities (or new FMPA members). These cities clearly have no need for the additional power and thus so limits the sales market as to render FMPA asset worthless to negative value.

· The cost or benefit of leaving the FMPA should be tied to the valuation and sale of the member cities’ (ie. the public of that community) share in FMPA assets.

o If or when a member city chooses to leave the FMPA, the FMPA ought to sell that member’s share of FMPA asset outside the FMPA to the open market then use the proceeds to pay off or defease that portion of FMPA debt belonging to the exiting member city.

o Selling assets should not harm member cities or bondholders wishing to stay with the FMPA. Selling assets merely makes the FMPA a smaller organization, without harm. More importantly, its good public policy to return assets to the public who rightfully owns them.

o FMPA asset sale valuation is a critical to public transparency. The public should understand if the FMPA is solvent or underwater, especially after 32 years of power project operation and debt repayment.

o Should outside customers like IR Shore and IR County be liberated from “permanent” territories, cities like Vero, will have excess capacity in the FMPA and will want (in fact, need) to be able to sell their FMPA assets for what they are truly worth on the open market.” (Vero Beach, FL)

————————————————————————————————————

“Today’s eye-opener. “(Reference to a blogger who wrote about the current difference between the Vero Beach electric rate and the Florida Power and Light rate):

Press Journal pundit, Larry Reisman, further exaggerated the rate differential in his opinion column, claiming it to be 31 percent.

Based on the most recent bill comparisons, the rate differential is 23.5 percent. After the OUC contract goes into effect, the rate differential, before accounting for a six percent franchise fee, will be 21.9 percent. Factoring in a 6 percent franchise fee, the rate differential in November will be 17.6 percent.” (Vero Beach, FL)

Our response: “With regard to the math, the result is still the same whether you talk about FP&L being percent 24% lower than Vero Beach or Vero Beach being 31% % higher than FP&L. Both numbers will yeld the the same result. The real issue is that VB is collecting approximately $ 90 million/year from its customers. FP&L rates would result in its customers paying $ 69 million/year, a savings of approximately $20,000,000/year. And that’s every year.

Reader’s further comment:

“I believe that you will find that has gone to the FL Supreme Court and been upheld. Where do you go now? That is a fools errand and not an honest remark. Anyone with knowledge of the process knows that mission is dead on arrival.

Representative Mayfield is no friend of the COVB. She has continued to be a far larger part of the problem than of the solution. You will find that virtually motion she has brought before committee with regard to the VB power situation has not made it out of committee because her positions were wreckless and unsupportable.”

Our response: “With regard to the Supreme Court, it is my understanding that in 1983 FMPA went before the Supreme Court to make sure their contracts were sufficient to issue bonds. Does the Supreme Court’s decision confirming FMPA was able to issue bonds mean that the FMPA can keep its contracts into eternity and have them never go away?

With regards to Debbie Mayfield, you should watch this video. Go about 1 hour in.

http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/10515-joint-legislative-auditing-committee/

Reader comment: “I don’t have time to watch Debbie Mayfield for an hour.”

GENERAL

“Yes enjoying your bio and love the many reading points.
Really opening my eyes to Vero’s issues and love the info.
My friends at Christi’s will love my input and they are frustrated with
All Aboard plus Electric by City. Now our beaches are eroded and snow
Birds arrive next month. Lifeguards are not happy hours and the young ones
hired don’t care.
Our real estate is healthy but no good homes to sell lots of garbage
Realtors very happy. If FED raises interest will effect home sales
and economy suffers.
Thank You.”

————————————————————————————————————

VeroVine

Our final comment:  You may or not be aware that we are partnering with Vero Vine, “The Fastest-Growing Treasure Coast Community.”  Vero Vine publishes articles appearing in Vero Communique that are relevant to its community.

Between the two of us, our article on the 2014 Vero Beach High School graduating class had over 10,000 readers.

Last week Vero Vine published commentaries we gathered by all five  candidates for Vero Beach city council.

That was a dud. Many many more readers read Vero Vine’s recipe for egg salad.

One thought on “Promoting Informed and Engaged Communities: Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s