VERO BEACH — Former Vero Beach City Councilman Charlie Wilson said he was hoping to get a little peace after Judge Paul Kanarek’s ruling in his case, ousting him from the city’s dais. He anticipated the nasty comments from critics saying he shouldn’t appeal, but he didn’t anticipate the firestorm from an unlikely group — his supporters.
“People are telling me that I have no right to even consider not appealing the ruling and that I would be seen as giving up,” Wilson said. “They’re telling me that this decision over Florida Power and Light will determine the future of Vero Beach and the direction that this city will take and whether or not their kids will be able to stay in Vero Beach and live in Vero Beach and open businesses in Vero Beach — or they will have to leave and go somewhere else.” Whether he stops for coffee, attends a meeting or goes to the grocery store, Wilson said he’s deluged with people who are angry at him for saying that he’s weighing very heavily the pros and cons of dragging the city through an appeal.
“They tell me that they sent me up there to do a job, to be a warrior and that’s what they expect,” he said. “They are telling me that I have no right to just ride off into the sunset.”
The main “job” Wilson was sent to the city council to do by the 1,063 people who voted for him was to take a hard look at getting the City of Vero Beach out of the electric business. During Wilson’s brief tenure, the city council on a 3-2 vote decided to move in that direction. To date, the city has not issued that written invitation to FPL to open discussions on a possible sale of the utility.
Trying to push this issue on from the outside and avoid the hassle and expense of mounting an appeal, Wilson issued a memo on Thursday to Mayor Kevin Sawnick.
“I respectfully request that you as Mayor advise FP&L of the council action and extend an invitation to FP&L to address the Utilities Advisory Committee as moved and passed on December 1st. Also, please request that the City Clerk include the pertinent section of the minutes. This invitation is all that is needed to start the process and give the citizens of Vero Beach and Indian River County the benefit of a fair hearing on the utility issue.”Wilson said he will not allow Sawnick or top city staff to disregard the vote of the council on this matter and that the follow through — or lack of it — on moving forward with negotiations with FPL will be a major factor in whether or not he appeals.
As of Friday morning, there has been no response to Wilson’s memo. He has received conflicting advice if technically he remains a councilman with his attorney saying he is until the 30 days he has to lodge an appeal runs out and the city saying
Wilson has announced that he will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to announce his plans for the future.