Thursday, January 30, 2014

FPL pushes its weight in South Miami elections: the attempt to destroy South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard … by gimleteye

A glaring example of corporate abuse is unfolding in a small south Florida municipality, where one of the nation's largest electric utilities is backing an effort extract a two term incumbent mayor, Philip Stoddard, who is leading the charge against two new nuclear reactors at sea level in another municipality, scarcely twenty miles away.

On a one to ten scale, what is happening in South Miami -- through a smear campaign it is directing at Mayor Philip Stoddard -- Florida Power and Light (FPL) tips the scales at a twelve.

Through carefully placed lobbyists as intermediaries and dark money channels through which sources of money are routinely scrubbed, FPL is slugging its weight in a local election in ways that can be described, simply, as shameful including telephone push polls requiring listeners to react to slander it may have invented in the first place.

Among those helping: Jorge Luis Lopez, a FPL lobbyist and long-time Miami-Dade political operative. The entities opposing Stoddard and supporting a pro-FPL slate of candidates go by benign names: "Progress for the People ECO" and "New Leadership Network". The telephone push poll enumerates issues of importance to South Miami voters and ends with "would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who" does something revolting.

What the push polls and efforts to stack the mayor's office and city commission deck don't disclose are the reasons why FPL wants to extract Mayor Stoddard. Money. Its money.

FPL is inching toward state approval of a plan to build two new nuclear reactors about twenty miles from South Miami. The cost, $20 billion, and promises of jobs (6,000) has politicians salivating except for a few thorny problems. Those problems manifest for FPL in the political influence of Mayor Stoddard.

Stoddard, a science professor at Florida International University, opposes the nuclear reactors at Turkey Point in Homestead, Florida. Among the chief reasons; the plan by FPL to route new high voltage power lines directly through highly populated South Florida municipalities in order to deliver power wherever and whenever it is needed, inside Florida and out of state. For good reasons, voters strongly object to new lines stretching overhead through their communities.

Mayor Stoddard is the visible leader of the opposition among other mayors and municipalities in South Florida. In 2011, he wrote and the city commission passed a resolution opposing nuclear cost recovery, the measure approved by state regulators that allows FPL to charge its customers for the "planning" of the new nuclear reactors and their permitting. FPL has generated well over $100 million a year; a potent source of hush money that keeps most of the political and economic elite in South Florida very quiet and complacent.

But not Mayor Stoddard. South Miami hired its own economist to evaluate the soundness of the FPL transmission line plan, and Mayor Stoddard then persuaded nearby municipalities, including wealthier neighbors like Coral Gables and Pinecrest, to oppose the transmission line plan preferred by FPL. He also testified four times in the state capitol, Tallahassee, against FPL with the Governor and Cabinet.

Unsurprisingly, the slate of candidates supported by the FPL says it is time to drop opposition to the FPL.

Alone, Mayor Stoddard's leadership against the transmission lines would be enough to trigger the corporate backlash and dirty tricks. But Stoddard has also taken aim against the electric utility at one of its most hallowed and time-honored deals that undergird monopolistic practices: the little-known franchise agreement with local governments.

Back in the old days, some Florida municipalities generated their own electricity for consumers. With franchise agreements, governments abandoned their production of electricity in return for a source of income. Through franchise agreements, FPL provides a valuable non-ad valorem revenue stream that can be used to bond other government needs -- in return for an exclusive monopoly.

Mayor Stoddard opposes the thirty year term of the typical franchise agreement that is coming up for renewal in South Miami. Moreover, he has undertaken to explain and to educate other municipalities why the thirty year term that is the gold standard for Florida's electrical utilities is a poor application of government policy. (For one, according to Stoddard, the franchise agreements effectively inhibit municipalities and elected officials from encouraging consumers to micro-generate their own power. The franchise agreements bar competition and also allow utilities like FPL to put in infrastructure wherever and whenever it pleases.)

The South Miami election will take place on February 11th. FPL aims to not only replace Mayor Stoddard but to turn the commission majority in its favor. On the ground operatives are distributing flyers, mailers, and questionable practices on absentee ballots have been raised with the county elections department, itself turned into a virtual fortress because so many illegal campaign activities in Miami-Dade have drawn the attention of the federal law enforcement.

The indelible stamp of big money and big power shows FPL at its most ham-handed self. If corporations are people -- then FPL is someone you don't want to know and can't live without: an oppressor the founders of this republic would have joined to expel from the colonies.

(For the record, I support Mayor Philip Stoddard. I also support nuclear power but not at sea-level at Turkey Point.)


Anonymous said...

FPL is a bully. Philip Stoddard deserves to be re=elected.

Anonymous said...

You are correct about the lobbyist connection. It was openly discussed on Spanish radio yesterday. Check with Bernadette Pardo...she have been receiving the calls at her house.

The robocalls are supposedly an effort to get the Hispanic vote out to the South Miami.

The wacko running against Stoddard has now attached her Spanish birth surname.

Anonymous said...

FPLs Wacko video

copy and paste

Anonymous said...

Stoddard is really concerned and interested in public health, safety, good policy, etc.
Why would anyone (including, his opponent) want the FPL plan to go forward?
What type of personal gain is in it for her?

Geniusofdespair said...

I support Philip Stoddard. FPL Should be ashamed they did the same thing to Scott Galvin

Bambi said...

Dear Geni,

If shame is a function of conscience, I think you're outta
luck here.

Bradley R. Stark, Esq. said...

The most disgraceful part of this FPL sham is that it is all done in an underhanded manner.

If FPL really thinks its reactors are great, if they really think Stoddard is a bad guy and has FACTS to support it...then the company and its officials should say it directly from their own mouths and defend their position publicly.

FPL runs around talking about 'family values', 'integrity' and claims to have concern for our community.

But hiding money sources, smears via innuendo attributed to no credible source, bullying a Professor who gets nothing out of the job of Mayor other than satisfaction that he is contributing to his neighbors...shows how FPL and its leaders are merely financial parasites.

Go Stoddard Go!

Anonymous said...

FPL Penny wise million dollars foolish

Do not forget that Horace Feliu spoke in front of the Florida Public Service Commission Jan 9th 2008 in support of FPL as Mayor of the City South Miami

Wacko II

Anonymous said...

NBC6 SF covered it South Miami Mayor Endorses Nukes, Gets Big Campaign Cash

Anonymous said...

Now we know exactly why Mayor Stoddard RAN for election....

The mayor had been running for re-election unopposed, but the nuke deal so frustrated Stoddard that, with hours to go before filing closed, Stoddard himself decided to run for mayor.

"And so we have to respond to the citizens' frustration,” said Stoddard. “We have to fix and change how the city operates so that the citizens get their needs met." NBC6 South Florida

Anonymous said...

here we go again! another Carlos Gimenez connection-Jorge Luis Lopez. Lopez is the gatekeeper for Gimenez. each and every county commission, Lopez stands by the doorway and tries to hit up every company he can. I bet if we look hard enough, we'll find Gimenez' son, daughter-in-law or his sister as a consultant for FPL. what a racket! put them all behind bars, where they belong

Anonymous said...

It could have been a quid pro quo, a financial pat on the back for a favorable stance, or just a coincidence, but when South Miami Mayor Horace Feliu endorsed a controversial power plant project, then got big bucks from Florida Power and Light, it raised some eyebrows.

The longtime mayor feels he knows the people of South Miami, yet he endorsed two new nuclear power plants just 20 miles away, requiring high-voltage power lines right through town. And Mayor Feliu said he called Florida Power and Light himself to offer his endorsement.

"I did tell them that I wanted to speak on their behalf," said Mayor Feliu. "And they said 'Absolutely, that would be a good idea.'"

A transcript from the Florida Public Service Commission, which decides regulatory matters concerning utilities, from the January 9, 2008, meeting quotes Mayor Feliu’s brief testimony:

"I'm in favor...of this project."

"Have you heard from the citizens of your city of South Miami?" Feliu was asked by PSC Commissioner Nancy Argenziano.

"We always have public discussions at the commission meetings, and no one has ever spoken against this project," Feliu responded.

It was a golden endorsement from Feliu for FPL, which was struggling to gain approval for the $12-$18 billion project.

But why on earth would a mayor endorse the idea of strong, high-voltage power lines going right through his city?

"Obviously the lines have to come through somewhere," Feliu said. "I've never endorsed it coming through South Miami, but should it come through South Miami we're prepared to bury the lines by having FP&L pay for it."

Feliu said he’s in discussions with FPL about raising the fees paid to the city as a result of the transmission lines, leveraging the increase to pay for a bond to bury the lines. But the plan may rely on other adjacent cities to do the same.

"I was appalled by what I learned," said Philip Stoddard, a researcher at Florida International University who lives in South Miami. Stoddard leads a group opposing FPL's plans and, therefore, opposing Mayor Feliu.

"And we were not happy with this idea. It's just disappointing when you're elected officials represent you in ways that are not representative," Stoddard said.

Then, just days after Mayor Feliu endorsed FPL's plans, FPL executives dumped campaign cash into his account, even though they don't live in South Miami, but live in Palm Beach County where FPL is headquartered. Each of the five executives gave the maximum allowable amount of $250. They are:

1. Robert Barrett, Jr., VP Finance & Director of Investor Relations, FPL
2. Maria Fogarty, VP Internal Auditing, FPL
3. C. Martin Mennes, VP Transmission, Operations, and Planning, FPL
4. Gregory Schneck, Married to Karen Schneck, VP FPL Energy
5. Kevin Suncine, VP Human Relations, FPL

Radio-Inactive said...

I generally like Stoddard. A decent guy. And I am highly suspicious of FPL's nuclear options.

However, Stoddard is a lousy mayor is so many ways.

No leadership, vision, guts. He runs an awful meeting, struggles to pass even the simplest things.

He allows the town crazies -- the 20-30 activists who scream and yell the loudest -- to halt progress in this city, which also serves as "downtown" for south gables, pinecrest, and the high pines and East Kendall areas.

He would make a decent commissioner. Mayor is another thing.

So sorry to have had to post this. But there's more to being mayor than a single issue that will be decided way, way up the political and legal food chain instead of in South Miami.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree, Radio-I.

The saddest part about South Miami is that many of the very same people who go ballistic over moving the UDB also go frothy at the mouth whenever a decent infill project seeks approval in that city,

This same group wants to eliminate outdoor dining, music, any sort of fun downtown. Most of these people live on the OTHER SIDE OF U.S. 1????

The only person who did an OK job of handling these "never, ever build anything" crowd in South Miami was Julio Robaina.

Mayor Stoddard just doesn't have what it takes.

Anonymous said...

They'll raise their rates 'till they own us
Get their new jets and their bonus
Tap the PSC's emails
They're all cheats is what they've shown us

They got an actor named Bob
From FPL
He'll tell you to conserve while his bosses say' "Sell"

Al them lobbyists
In their business suits
Lyin' through their teeth
For Flor'da Plunder and loot

A million more in Miami
Just makes a hot city hotter
They can make more electric'
But they can't make more water

Downtown had a building boom
One tenth full at best
Two new nukes give Turkey Point
A frightening excess

Alzheimer's , cancer and Hodgkins
And I'm not joking
High Voltage power lines
Are worse for you than smonin'

And they're hummin' all night
And their sparks make a sight
Buildin up the power grid
And daddy never slleeps all night

Author: Tru-noxious
Music: Squeezbox, The Who

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, forgot the last verse

Remember Wilma, Hurricane Wilma
FPL's lack of planning killed
Then they surcharged all our bills
Buildin' up the power grid
And daddy never sleeps all night

Anonymous said...

The FPL head hancho flys by helicopter to and from Turkey Point while all the other minions drive their automobiles....No first or business class for this one

Anonymous said...

They go in and out and in and out and in and out. And in and out.
Talking nonsense all night and the lies ain't all right
Bobs got a two sided mouth and Phil never runs a meeting right

Tru-noxious you've been served


Anonymous said...

Mayor Stoddard has received the official endorsement of the Sierra Club for his environmental record and his vision for a sustainable city.

Anonymous said...

If our esteemed State Attorney had done her job, Horace Feliu would be a convicted felon and thus barred from running.