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Heran creates PAC to push passage of utility referendum

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER, (Week of October 6, 2011)
Photo of Glenn Heran.

Utility activist and CPA Glenn Heran filed paperwork last week to establish a political action committee to support passage of the Vero Beach utility referendum on the November ballot.

Heran, who lives in unincorporated Indian River County, but whose family and their businesses own more than $1 million worth of Vero Beach property, said he saw the need for someone to counter the constant drumbeat of opponents of the referendum.

The city is legally barred from using taxpayer money to launch an awareness campaign about the referendum, so it's left to whoever fills the vacuum and provides information about what's going to be on the ballot.

"The important thing about the PAC is that it's issues oriented, but it won't do candidate advocacy, so it can't give money to candidates," Heran said. "It's broadly defined as any utility issue, but the immediate goal of the PAC is to support "yes" votes for the referendum."

Heran said he knows he doesn't have much time before the Nov. 8 election and even less time before early voting starts. His goal is to raise a few thousand dollars to print some signs and to run print media advertisements explaining the possibilities opened up by a "yes" vote, and the consequences of a "no" vote.

"We need to do public awareness, so they know the meaning of the referendum and what they need to do," Heran said. "Because if the referendum fails, it will kill the sale to Florida Power and Light, or at least severely damage it."

"If there are people out there who haven’t been following the issue – no matter how hard that is to believe – it's worth taking the time to educate them about the referendum," he said. "If you want to continue the conversation with FPL about a sale, you need to vote ‘yes’ on this referendum."

Heran is known for creating, along with Dr. Stephen Faherty, an interactive financial model which has made predictions based upon city budget numbers, public record and some educated assumptions about the impact of a utility sale to FPL for the Indian River County community.

"We're going to save this community $20 million dollars," Heran said.

Councilman Brian Heady in recent public appearances has said the sale of the electric utility to FPL is the biggest "economic shot in the arm" he could offer the city as an elected official and has warned that, if the referendum fails, FPL would walk away from the negotiating table.

On the other side of the issue, opponents to the referendum – including former City Attorney Charles Vitunac, former Councilwoman Lynne Larkin, and county resident and political blogger Bea Gardner – have written a steady stream of letters to the editor in the local daily newspaper.

The Florida Municipal Electric Association has conducted push polling and produced a YouTube video touting all the reasons, in the view of the public power lobby, why local residents should vote "no" in November.

Heran has set up an account at Northern Trust Bank to receive donations to the PAC. For more information, contact him at (772) 473-7629.