The Florida Municipal Power Agency

This story is hidden in the Faith section of our “New newspaper last page now called Business”?

Audit: Power agency spent thousands on flowers, parties

floridamoney

A government- owned power company that supplies wholesale electricity for 31 small Florida cities plans to pay its chief executive’s six-months salary and health insurance premiums for the rest of his life if he is fired, according to a preliminary audit report that has angered some city officials.

The Florida Municipal Power Agency also spent tens of thousands of dollars on flowers, holiday parties, travel costs and gift cards to staffers for birthdays, according to the state’s Auditor General. The Orlando-based agency’s members cover about 2 million residents, or about 10 percent of the state’s population.

The state Auditor General this week called on the Florida Municipal Power Agency in Orlando to correct practices that resulted in writing off hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade. The organization buys or generates electricity and sells it at wholesale rates to 20 smaller cities, including Leesburg and Kissimmee.

Spotlighted in the audit were worker benefits such as 12 days of sick leave, no requirement to take vacation for absences of fewer than four hours, a pair of Magic season tickets used by employees “and guest,” no limits on meal costs, and hotel stays for employee family members paid for by the agency.

Other expenses highlighted were $12,030 for flowers, $1,517 for rental of a Christmas tree and $12,688 for holiday parties. Dinners for FMPA members in Washington in 2013 and 2014 each cost more than $3,000, with a large portion of the expense for alcohol.

“We are extremely disappointed in what we see,” Councilman Mitch Timberlake of Green Cove Springs said Friday.

“The FMP, in that report, is not performing to the standards that we would expect.”

While it is too early to take action since the final report hasn’t been completed, Timberlake said, city officials were drafting a letter expressing their concerns and disappointment.

The FMPA is owned by cities stretching from Key West to Jacksonville Beach that sell electricity to their residents.

Customers in member cities have higher rates than those that get their power from investor-owned utilities like Florida Power & Light and TECO, whose rates are subject to approval by the Public Service Commission, the preliminary report said.

The agency said it plans to respond to the audit within 30 days.

Chief Executive Officer Nicholas P. Guarriello said the agency had tried

“to faithfully administer the contracts for our members, their customers and our bondholders.” Agency board chairman Bill Conrad said the audit’s findings merited consideration.

MIKE SCHNEIDER Associated Press ORLANDO

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-critical-audit-power-agency-20150130-story.html

Questions for Governor Scott

From Halifax Media Group

ANOTHER OPINION

http://leesburgdailycommercial.fl.newsmemory.com/

“In Florida’s unique government, three officials and the governor — all elected statewide — share power on the Cabinet.

That power-sharing arrangement is the most compelling reason for Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to grill Gov. Rick Scott over the departure of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The FDLE, an 1,800-member agency, is overseen by the Cabinet.

On Jan. 13, the Cabinet approved the appointment of Rick Swearingen, a longtime member of the department, to be the new commissioner — after Scott said Bailey had resigned.

Subsequently, Bailey said he was forced to resign, and the media started asking questions about the circumstances. Putnam joined in, followed by Atwater and Bondi.

Scott has dodged questions from reporters, but last week his office released some limited statements.

On Dec. 16, according to the governor’s office, Bailey submitted a letter stating that he was “stepping down” as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. However, as Scott’s office wrote, before that date members of the governor’s and Cabinet members’ staffs met. During those meetings, the governor’s staff said Scott “wanted new leadership at FDLE” and “Cabinet staff raised no objection.”

It may be true that Bailey submitted a letter stating that he was stepping down. But for the governor to publicly deny that Bailey was forced to resign is disingenuous.

Scott said more recently that he is always looking for “new leadership,” just as he did as a chief executive of a huge, for-profit hospital chain.

But there are problems with that argument: Scott is now in the public sector and cannot make Cabinet decisions unilaterally, and there are serious doubts about whether Swearingen, an FDLE employee for decades, will deliver the new leadership that the department truly needs.

While reports describe Bailey as widely respected, he had his critics in law enforcement around the state. What’s more, there are questions about whether the FDLE’s resources are properly allocated. Local agencies frequently complain about long delays in the department’s processing of evidence.

Atwater, Putnam and Bondi — all of whom have further political ambitions — should ask their staffs to determine whether Scott’s office did share the governor’s intentions. Also, the Cabinet members ought to explain why they went along with appointing Swearingen without asking many questions.

In any case, Scott owes the Cabinet and the public a thorough explanation of what transpired and why he recommended Swearingen, the insider.

What’s more, although Scott’s office has denied the allegations, some independent organization should investigate Bailey’s assertions that former executive office aides asked him to target — without evidence — a local official in order to find scapegoats for the escape of state prisoners.

Florida’s Cabinet system has its roots in historic distrust of an all-powerful executive. Scott’s handling of Bailey’s departure and his office’s interactions with the FDLE underscore the reasons for that distrust.”

From Halifax Media Group.

http://www.dailycommercial.com/

“GOOD-BY-OLD FRIEND”!

It is time to say “Good-by” to an old friend

First another person upset with our leaders in Lake County Florida Schools.

Contrary to popular belief

I believe that one should latch onto a wrong until this wrong is corrected?

Apparently the Mouse in our Daily Newspaper also believes this?

Moxley must go!

Moxley

“GOOD-BY-OLD FRIEND”!

http://www.dailycommercial.com/

Soon!

As stated in an earlier post, we can no longer read to enjoy our newspaper!

Elder’s in the Daily Commercial Newspaper Leesburg Florida Area must now either read with a magnifying glass or read until one gets a headache and read later?

This, to me and my better half, a retired newspaper critic,

Newspaper Critic in LA.

was once a great paper and in our opinion second only to the New London Daily Newspaper in New London Connecticut,

http://www.theday.com/

and this one may have also been destroyed by a big conglomerate ‘News company’?

We will not be renewing our subscription and be notifying them of this before it expires.

I will miss the only part of the paper that I can still read, Mr. Mouse.

Wordsmithed

Lack of oversight is the key problem at Lake schools

What does our Superintendent have to hold over our school board?

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

“You asked if readers are satisfied with Lake County School Superintendent Dr. Moxley’s excuse that lack of proofreading was the cause for class size reporting errors to FLDOE.

No, I am not satisfied, because the real problem was bad management and an inability to ensure a critical process had adequate supervision to ensure reported data was accurate.

They hired a specialist for $48,000 who only started in September, and that was one of the initial excuses.

However, I put it down to lack of management and supervision oversight.

Moxley keeps hiding the responsible senior management. The CFO is in charge of some of it, but why are the academic heads not called forward for clear explanations instead of wordsmithed explanations from Moxley? Why isn’t Dr. Doyle, Christensen or the HR director explaining the lack of management oversight?

They had assigned a critical manager to another project, so the excuse is she was not there to proofread.

Why wasn’t there management direction to define methods to ensure data reporting accuracy over a critical process known to have the risk of large fines? And yet these folks are administering (not managing) the education of kids who might one day be defining science or engineering standards for aircraft and food.

Lack of management skills is the problem in Lake County, not proofreading. Lack of interest in specific, accurate analytical costs or work processes is another.

For instance, the School Board just voted to set new student boundaries for some schools but there was no discussion of the varying costs per student or school of implementing the options. That would never happen in the business world.

As a person with significant business experience who has attended most School Board meetings for eight years, the level of management practices won’t change until there is another superintendent, and a board that understands the problem and acts on it.”

VANCE JOCHIM, Tavares

Wordsmithed (One who uses words skillfully).

http://leesburgdailycommercial.fl.newsmemory.com/

Guns, politics and religion

I had a strange how be it somewhat good visit yesterday that kept me off the computer for a little time.

I would not be posting or have given it a 2nd thought except it goes along with many of my postings.

This is why I post about Florida and why most of the time I am in bewilderment while posting with what is going on in this state?

Guns, politics and religion all from one

“Expert”!

As stated and not by me, please do not shoot the messenger.

Christians believe that Adolf Hitler is the “666” Anti-Christ and Osama bin Laden is not dead and will be the return of Adolf Hitler the Anti-Christ?

This person has 138 guns and not one of them has killed anyone, not even the one loaded and placed in a window for a month just as a test?

Everyone should have at least one weapon because only the crack-pots are killers.

Silencers are OK for hunting because during hunting season people should not be in wooded areas.

http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates

I guess that this means that if you live with-in five miles of some woods you must move during hunting season?

President Obama is hiding Bin Laden and some of the school shooters because it is a conspiracy so that he, Obama, can get gun control passed.

Not all of those school children were shot, the pictures are makeover’s.

Ok

Just to clear up this post, Hitler and Bin-Laden and unfortunately those poor children have passes and not coming back.

Just about all of Florida’s Floridians including the hunters, live with-in five miles of some woods.

If the Christian God wanted us to know the Anti-Christ it would be in the “Good Book”!

The bible speaks both in the old and the new testament about this evil person and his cohorts however, it is up to Christians to always be ready for his return and for the real Christ return, not just to be ready on a designated day of the coming?

I want all weapons to disappear from Mother Earth forever, if you want to rob me you must bring along your fists!

Last, be by no means least, I am a little nuts however, I do not own or want to own a weapon.

That said, if you want protection for god sake keep it safe so that crack-pots can’t steal it and kill more of our children and the elderly?

‘Guns Do Kill’ when in the hands of some crack-pot!

Corporate greed

MICHAEL J. HARRIS, Webster Florida

http://sumtercountyfl.gov/545/City-of-Webster

I’m sure that you are telling us that outsourcing is wrong, bad for business and our country, plus the fact that big business is also greedy?

Mr. Harris posting in the paper.

Many people have the misconception that big U.S. corporations outsource the manufacturing of their products because of regulations and taxes imposed upon them by the government.

Have they considered corporations like General Electric?

The stated tax rate may seem high.

However, the effective tax rate is one of the lowest in the world.

In the last six to eight years General Electric has paid zero dollars in corporate taxes in the U.S.

In my opinion it is all about greed!

Where is patriotism these days?

The United States has been good to these corporations.

The government of the United States through its patent office and courts has protected its inventions, thereby keeping profits high.

The government has educated its work force through public education.

It has provided industry with the roads and other infrastructure which facilitate its business activity.

The U.S. Navy has ensured that the sea lanes have been kept open and safe so that business can do its shipping.

This country has always stood by corporations.

How about bringing back

“made in the USA”

for a change and help restore our working class?

MICHAEL J. HARRIS, Webster Florida

http://sumtercountyfl.gov/545/City-of-Webster

I am also sure Michael, that this is why companies like Burger King outsourced, started in Florida, moved to Canada and by the way Mike have you notice the big drop in quality and courtesy in their new company?

Banking kilowatts

Image_5

Banking kilowatts

Donna Naples points out the arrow on her electric meter.

When it points right, the home’s solar system is producing more energy than is being used in the house, and the balance is feeding the grid.

Naples is banking kilowatts

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New homes are constructed in the Trilogy subdivision in Groveland on Tuesday.

Homes in Groveland subdivision use solar energy in order to keep electric costs low

Groveland resident Donna Naples remembers going to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and hearing about the future and the possibility of many cool things to come.

After all, the fair’s theme was “Peace through Understanding,” with a focus on “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe.”

An online description said, “The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th century American culture and technology.”

Naples, then 10 years old, heard about the possibility of wireless phones and solar energy and was awed by the prospects.

To her, those things seemed impossible.

Little did she know that, almost 50 years later, she’d not only own a cell phone but she’d actually be living in a solar-powered home.

“When you’re 10 years old, you don’t think about it like that.

You don’t think of the reality, but it’s amazing, and now 50 years later, here I am and me and my husband are living in a home just like that,” Naples said.

“Never in my lifetime did I ever think I’d be a part of that.”

Naples, now almost 60, lives at Trilogy, an age-restricted, gated community off U.S. Highway 27 in Groveland.

Homes start at $172,000 for villas and go up to nearly $400,000.

Her home, along with every home at Trilogy built after January 2013 — when Shea Homes took over for Levitt as the community’s builder, is powered by solar energy.

She and her husband enjoy receiving electric bills that, on most months, are $10.48 or less.

Everett said the cost is for surge protectors and not really electric.

“We have no electric bill here and I know that especially in summer months, electric bills can be $200-$300.

Never have we had a bill more than $10.80, even in the summer, as hot as it is here, and running the A/C sufficiently,” Naples said.

Katie Everett, sales manager for Shea Homes Marketing Company, said the very thought of not having to pay a high electric bill every month is what keeps people buying at Trilogy.

“It’s newer technology that came out in February 2013, but as a consumer going out and buying solar for their home on their own, it’s very expensive. You’re looking at anywhere from about $30,000 or $40,000 to $50,000,” Everett said.

“Shea Homes solved the financial model.

You have to save a lot of energy to consider spending $40,000.”

Everett said when a customer buys a home, Shea pays for the 20-year lease price of a solar system, about $20,000 to $25,000, to SolarCity, its trade partner.

Buyers then get to choose from three models: three-, four- or five-kilowatt systems that vary the amount of electric used or money paid for it.

An upgrade to what Shea refers to as a “SheaXero system, means a “No Electric Bill Home,” and ends up offsetting electricity costs all year.

SolarCity maintains the system for its life, about 30 years.

“It costs the consumer nothing up front,” she said. “This is a 55-plus community, and you figure one of the biggest concerns for an empty nester is, ‘How can I have the least amount of expenditures?’ “No electric bill is a big one when you consider that in 10 years, electric rates have gone up 400 percent. Just research that.”

And if you look at the nearly 500 homes already built out of the approximate 1,500 total after Shea’s build-out capacity at Trilogy, it’s easy to spot the features that contribute to its solar energy status — solar panels.

“Each home has a patch of solar panels on the roof and after a while, you don’t even notice it anymore,” Naples said.

The homes take in solar energy during the day, transfer it to a grid to store it so there is power throughout the night.

“You’re connected to the grid. You’re like a little mini power plant,” she said.

And though most days in Florida are sunny, the system still works during gloomy or rainier days because the ultraviolet light that the sun gives off is still powerful enough.

The main thing that sells buyers, Everett said, is that they end up saving about $2,000 to $5,000 per year in electric costs.

Everett also said that as more and more consumers get solar and spread the word about it, it’s going to become the norm.

“We figure that if we start providing solar to consumers, other consumers are going to start demanding it,” Everett said.

Naples said she sometimes reflects on what she and her husband will do in 20 years when the Shea Homes lease on their system is up.

“In 20 years, they’ll probably approach us and ask if we want the newest system and we’ll decide then, but right now, it’s there. And coming from South Florida, where electric was very expensive, I can’t imagine not having it,” Naples said.

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Solar installations such as this one are a common sight at Trilogy in Groveland.

LINDA CHARLTON / CORRESPONDENT

http://www.dailycommercial.com/

New homes are constructed in the Trilogy subdivision in Groveland on Tuesday.

BRETT LE BLANC / DAILY COMMERCIAL

ROXANNE BROWN

roxanne.brown@dailycommercial.com