It was a long and tedious City Council Meeting. The hour was late and the Council had covered a lot of issues. They had heard an unusual amount of public comments and two long presentations. When Mayor Joe Kilsheimer finally began the Mayor’s Report, it was after 10pm, and the meeting was now over three hours in length.
Kilsheimer referenced the Old Florida Outdoor Festival, said he thought it might make a profit this year, and thanked volunteers. Then he read a letter into the record that he mailed to the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District. In it, he criticized the LANGD and questioned its existence. He asked for the Council’s thoughts, and Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith was quick to respond.
“I think we should have a discussion,” he said. “I’m embarrassed that a letter like that went out without you (Kilsheimer) picking up a phone and calling them first. You’ve been here two years. All you have to do is pick up a phone and call.”
Kilsheimer pointed out that a mayor should be hearing from the utility, not the other way around.
“In Orlando, Mayor (Buddy) Dyer doesn’t have to pick up a phone to talk to the OUC (Orlando Utilities Commission). They’re in his office telling him what they are doing.”
Arrowsmith shot back with a reference to the City budget.
“If you want to force the issue and let the city go ahead and cash-in now because I think the budget will need it, then I think we should meet with them now and get all the facts and figures. Mr. Davis is open to talk to you anytime.
Samuel Davis is whom Arrowsmith was referring to. He is the General Manager & Chief Executive Officer of LANGD.
“He was at the Prayer Breakfast,” said Kilsheimer. “I asked him to call me. Nothing.”
In the letter, Kilsheimer references a City Council meeting from 2014 when he was a City Commissioner and asked about this issue. According to Kilsheimer, Mayor John Land cut him off from speaking. Arrowsmith defended Land’s actions.
“I realize where this whole issue is coming from. And like I said it’s a shame that you ambushed the mayor at that meeting and all the mayor was asking for was time to get the facts and figures…and we’ll talk about it down the road. But no, you had to keep pushing it.”
“I didn’t get a chance to,” said Kilsheimer.
“Right,” countered Arrowsmith. “Because the administration didn’t have the information they needed and all he said was “I’m not going to discuss it right now. We can discuss it down the road.” That could have happened then, but no, the nursery growers…and your supporter is here tonight…
As Arrowsmith was speaking, Commissioner Sam Ruth jumped in.
“It’s not only the nursery growers,” he said. “It’s the large commercial growers too.
“Plenty of people,” said Kilsheimer.
“And manufacturing companies too because their “therm” rates doubled,” added Ruth. “I know that for a fact.”
At that point, Kilsheimer seemed ready to end the discussion, but Arrowsmith and Ruth were not finished.
“Alright. We put the topic on the table,” Kilsheimer said.
“I know where this topic is coming from,” said Arrowsmith. “But you’re right, let’s put it on the table for a future meeting and get all the facts and figures together and let’s discuss it.”
Ruth shot back…
“I want to discuss where you think this topic is all coming from. It’s innuendos like that that bug me to no end. To sit there and make an allegation like “I know where this is coming from”. For me, that’s the reason we end up with stories in the Orlando Sentinel.”
“Why are you being so sensitive?” Arrowsmith asked Ruth.
“I’m being sensitive because I’m being accused…”
Kilsheimer again attempted to diffuse the discussion.
“The hour is late,” he said; but Ruth continued.
“Im not going to sit here and be insulted by him,” he said, referring to Arrowsmith.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” said Arrowsmith.
“Yes you were,” said Ruth.
Kilsheimer jumped in again.
“Are we done?”
“I am,” said Arrowsmith. “I didn’t mean to strike a chord because I didn’t have Commissioner Ruth in mind.”
“I watched people’s gas bills double,” Ruth said before Kilsheimer interjected.
“Alright. Commissioner Ruth, let’s go home.”
Read the letter the Mayor sent to LANGD here.
Listen to the portion of the Council meeting described above here.