Mayor Joe Kilsheimer surprised the City Council with his suggestion of appointing himself and Commissioner Diane Velazquez to the Board of The Lake Apopka Natural Gas District (LANGD) during his “Mayor’s Report” at the previous meeting of The City Council. It appears that none of the commissioners nor City Attorney Cliff Shepard were made aware.

But none were more surprised than Commissioner Billie Dean.

Dean, a 21-year Apopka Commissioner and The Vice Mayor, is a current LANGD Board member along with former Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith. During the Mayor’s Report it became clear Kilsheimer intended to replace them both. And while Dean was somewhat silent during the Council discussion, he isn’t any longer.

He released this scathing email to The Apopka Voice in response to Kilsheimer:

Commissioner Billie Dean
Commissioner Billie Dean

“As everyone is aware, I presently sit on the board and there was absolutely no professional consideration granted to my service as Secretary on the board and my experience, nor my education.  I hold a Bachelors’ and a Masters’ degree in Agriculture and Administration and Supervision. Further, I am insulted that this important item was not placed on the agenda for all to see… but rather placed on the mayor’s report, thus surprising, I hope the entire council, and city staff, legal included and the citizens of our city.”

Arrowsmith agrees that Dean should remain on the LANGD Board.

“Commissioner Dean has two years of experience now,” he said. “And Mrs. (Commissioner Diane) Velazquez would have nothing to add. Leaving him (Dean) on is the right thing to do.”

According to Velazquez, Shepard advised her not to comment on the LANGD matter.

“At the advice from City Attorney, I cannot comment on this matter, RE: LANGD” she said in a text message to The Apopka Voice.


 “I presently sit on the board and there was absolutely no professional consideration granted to my service as Secretary on the board and my experience, nor my education.”

-Commissioner Billie Dean


As of 5pm today, Shepard did not respond to a voicemail left at his office, but he too was caught unaware by Kilsheimer’s agenda addition.

“I wish I had known a procedural question was going to come up tonight,” he said during the City Council meeting. “I didn’t see it on the agenda or I would have already had an answer for you.”

Commissioner Doug Bankson is reserving his comments for the next City Council meeting, but was clearly surprised by the topic.

“I haven’t seen these last two items… have they been added?” Bankson asked during the meeting. “I’d feel more comfortable having it discussed.”

Becker confirmed he was also unaware of Kilsheimer’s desire to be on the LANGD board.

That was the first I heard of it,” he stated.

He went on to say he would prefer to have time to review any issues that come before the City Council.

“If decisions are required of me, I want to have all the information at hand,” he said. “Being an analyst, I’m more of a preparer. I like to research a subject. I like to prepare a little bit more.”

He welcomes the discussion at the upcoming City Council meeting however.

“The issues are still there. The problem hasn’t been solved. There are still things to work out. I want to make sure that whomever sits on that Board has the best interests of Apopka in mind. I want whatever gets done at LANGD to be transparent. Some boards are ceremonial. On this Board, I want whoever represents Apopka to have an active voice.”

At debates, and in interviews during the campaign process, Becker has been that voice on LANGD issues, but he says he isn’t shooting for an appointment to the Board.

That’s not where I’m coming from at all. I just got on the City Commission. I have enough on my schedule.”

An email to Kilsheimer this morning went unanswered as of 5pm this afternoon. However he had plenty to say during the City Council discussion.

“The absolute truth is I’ve raised some issues, as everyone kind of knows. Because of my professional background, I have a great deal of experience in utility issues, and so I feel like I have the expertise. And I also have specific knowledge on how LANGD operates. And I also have specific input from businesses in Northwest Orange County, and not just nurseries, who are concerned at how LANGD conducts its business and how that affects their business.”

Dean also thinks he has that knowledge and experience to remain on the Board.

“I unequivocally wish to continue my service on the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District board,” Dean said.




  1. The nurseries and other businesses would better served by putting up solar or biomass than gas. It would reduce cost and waste. My home electric cost was $8 last month and under $7 the month before last.

    Eliminate the entire need for the board. The entire country of Germany used renewable resources for 87% of their energy last month. We are behind.

  2. I don’t know anything about the solar except what I saw on a tv news report. This man they featured spent all kinds of money about $60,000 dollars or more and had the entire top of his home covered in solar panels. He said he didn’t have to depend on the electric company at all. However, the report said that in Florida, that they still have to pay some to the power company, by law. Maybe that is why Dr. O’s bill, in the posting above, is so low. The man on tv didn’t think that it was right, and I don’t know what he still had to pay to the power company as a bill. The tv feature was so recent, you can probably still find it on the internet. It was the regular news channels in Orlando, not sure which one.

  3. Okay, I found it if you want to check out the article and video on Channel 9 in Orlando. You can go to channel 9 news Orlando and up to the top under 9 investigates and scroll down to the story and video or just type in, “Want solar panels in Florida, you still have to pay the power company, May 12, 2016 that should bring it up. A whole system to run your home is minimum of $ 30,000 and it will take 10 years to get a return on your investment. Still have to be hooked to the power company grid by law.

    • Please read the link from Dale. I used the co-op and installed a net-zero system for my home, after tax credit (not tax deduction) at less than $10k. There is a small monthly paperwork fee to be connected. Some people put in batteries, but it all. I sell when the sun is out a buy when it isn’t.

      The price of PV has dropped rapidly in recent months and the co-ops make it Evan better. You don’t have wait for rebates to benefit. I was bid a couple years ago for $50k, got for 1/5 that amount. Keep reading and researching!

  4. The article on 9 is one reason to vote against the proposed solar amendment this fall, the utility companies funded it. It is not real choice. Solar and other renewable resources should not be under any control of industry. We should be able to freely use nature in our homes and businesses.

  5. It all sounds kind of confusing, but I think it is a wonderful idea, if one has the money to part with, to invest installing it in their home. The extent of my solar power is putting a gallon jug on the tabletop, with tea in it in the summer, and making sun tea. I see many homes with a lot of solar panels on their rooftops. I believe that big brick building on Park Avenue across from the Florida Hospital has those solar panels on top. The medical building next to the mini store. Yes, there should be a cheaper way to live, and get by!

  6. I believe that the Mayor and Commissioner Velazquez are violating the sunshine law and it needs to be investigated. She was not at all surprised when the Mayor made the recommendation of her to me on the LANGD board. Give them enough rope, they will hang themselves!


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