Vero Beach citizens worry about private meetings with FPL
10:54 PM, Jan 7, 2013
12:16 AM, Jan 8, 2013
VERO BEACH, Fla. - Cathy Katrovitz and her husband, Phil, are a retired couple, living in Vero Beach.
Cathy said she doesn't worry too much about her electric bill.
"Electricity is electricity," she said.
She said she's more concerned that city council members might be discussing her home power supply without giving her, or any citizens, the chance to be there.
"I didn't think they were supposed to be behind closed doors for this type, or any type, of negotiation," said Katrovitz.
Some city council members, such as Jay Cramer, alerted citizens that they were welcome at his meeting with Florida Power & Light representatives, in which he received the documentation of the updated purchasing sale agreement. Other council members met with FPL representatives for the same purpose, and had the city manager present, but not all of them publicized their meetings.
"The idea of negotiating a deal behind closed doors doesn't sit well with a number of people," said Cramer. "So, if we were going to meet with people concerning a sale like this, we would want to make sure that it's done in the public, that it's done openly, and the public can see and observe what's going on."
Amy Brunjes, External Affairs Manager on the Treasure Coast for Florida Power & Light, said the company was following their policy.
"Any time we have an FPL matter before an elected body in the municipalities and counties that we serve, we would meet with them if they wanted to, to answer any questions or concerns they might have, to help them become more informed, to help them represent and inform their constituents," she said, of FPL's meeting with council members.
"We're open and transparent," she continued. "It's really a courtesy to the council to answer any questions that they might have, that perhaps they didn't want to ask at the meeting, or if they wanted to get more information in advance of a meeting."
Cramer said he can't speak for the other council members, but he wanted to make his meeting public so Vero Beach residents have confidence that they know what's going on.
"I was not privy to the meetings that they had, I don't know what they said in those meetings," he said. "If they're talking about city business or items that are coming to a vote, then it should have been done out in the public."
All of the council members, when NewsChannel 5 contacted them individually, said there was no negotiation with FPL. They said there was simply a "briefing," or receiving information that was already made public on the city's website.
Tuesday, the council members will discuss the purchasing sale agreement at their regular scheduled meeting.
Katrovitz said she doesn't know if council members broke the Sunshine Law, but she's concerned about them following the spirit of the law.
"The way things are going, it leaves doubts in my mind that this is being done in a good manner," she said.