July/August 2022 Gainesville Iguana

The July/August issue of the Iguana is now available, and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.

CORRECTION to elections article

Please note that the July/August edition misstates Gary Gordon’s position regarding single family zoning. He supports single family zoning and is against the proposal that would change that. A missing word—”proposal”—in the original report creates the confusion. Again, he is against the exclusionary zoning proposal and supports single family zoning as we have it now.  Sorry for the confusion. It has been corrected in the article online.

Fifty years of Title IX: 37 Words that changed America

Friends of Susan B. Anthony celebrate Women’s Equality Day 2022

The Friends of Susan B. Anthony is happy to announce that we will celebrate Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 26) with our annual luncheon on Saturday, Aug. 27. This event, which began as an informal birthday party for Susan B. Anthony over forty years ago, is now held in conjunction with the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Each year a local woman is recognized who exemplifies the spirit of Susan B. Anthony. This year, Sheila Payne will be honored for her community work on behalf of labor and fair housing.  

The featured speaker will be Dr. Elaine Turner, who is dean for the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She will be discussing the momentous impact that Title IX has had on women’s education and sports. For further information, and instructions on how to register for the luncheon, please check our website at fosba.com or contact Barbara Oberlander at 352-378-6447. 

WGOT: Back on the air, need volunteers

by Fred Sowder, WGOT Station Coordinator

After a two-month blackout following a catastrophic server failure, WGOT is happy to announce that we’re back on the air at 100.1FM in Gainesville and streaming live at wgot.org. It may be some time before we can recover older shows from our old server if at all, so it’s almost like we’re a new station. Here’s to new beginnings!

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Rest in Power, Sidney Leonard Bertisch, 1941-2022

by Elaine Bertisch

We mourn the passing of Sidney Leonard Bertisch, who died on April 17, at UF Health Shands Hospital after a brief illness. 

Sidney was born in the Bronx, New York, on June 26, 1941, to Max Bertisch and Kate (Lieber) Bertisch. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School, then worked for several years at resorts in the Catskills as a lighting operator for nightclub acts including Milton Berle, Gregory Hines, Eydie Gormé and Steve Lawrence, and Jackie Mason. Sidney’s Borscht Belt sense of humor originated there.

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Chandler Brooks Otis, 1955-2022

by Paul Schmidt, Owner of Bikes and More

Reclusive and soft spoken by nature, Chandler Brooks Otis was a pillar in the volunteer cycling community. 

I was introduced to CBO through Bike Florida and Campus Cycle bicycle shop. I eventually, through Chandler’s help and guidance, became a tour mechanic alongside CBO, and his coworker at Campus Cycle (circa 1995). 

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History and the people who make it: Thomas Arthur Harris

Practicing law as a Black attorney in the Jim Crow south

The children of formerly enslaved Blacks in the Jim Crow South fought to acquire an education and succeed in white-collar professions. Segregated schools ensured that Black children would not receive education equivalent to that of their white peers. Their parents struggled to provide for their families and pay their taxes, only to see them misappropriated for white schools. Black families were forced to fundraise in their communities to overcome the void left by the absence of their tax dollars. Scholars call this double taxation. 

Black school children were barred from studying subjects that would allow them to pursue professional degrees in law or science. Those who did succeed in pursuing such degrees then faced prejudice, discrimination, and racially motivated violence in their professional practice. 

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March for our lives DC

by Vickie Machado 

Saturday, June 11, under overcast DC skies, people converged with signs and banners before a stage set up on the lawn north of the Washington Monument. Just blocks away from key congressional decision makers, the audience’s message was clear: enough is enough, we want an end to gun violence. Tired of mass shootings, the crowd was there to march for their lives. 

Gun violence has no limits, impacting everywhere from the South Side of Chicago to the school shootings of Uvalde, Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Columbine. More recently, it has hurt communities like Laguna Woods and Buffalo. Similarly, it has brought even the largest of cities like Las Vegas and Orlando to their knees in grief. The crowd in DC was well aware of the events and the common threads that united them. 

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Local environmental book club announces future dates 

by David Vaina

Our Santa Fe River’s Environmental Book Club, launched this past January, has selected its monthly book club selections for August through June 2023. 

The club will meet in August at the Civic Media Center in Gainesville from 2-3pm on Sunday, Aug. 14 to discuss Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future. The discussion will be facilitated by Iguana publisher Joe Courter.

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Candidate forums at press time

Thursday, July 14, 6pm: City Commission candidates
Emmanuel Mennonite Church, 1256 NW 18th Ave., hosted by ACLC (see page 6 for more info)

Monday, July 18, 5:30-7:30pm: County, School Board, and Judges candidates
Cotton Club, 877 SE 7th Ave.

Wednesday, July 20, 5:30-7:30pm: City Commission and Mayoral candidates
Cotton Club, 877 SE 7th Ave.

Thursday, July 28, 6pm: Mayoral candidates
Emmanuel Mennonite Church, 1256 NW 18th Ave., hosted by ACLC (see page 6 for more info) 

School boards: The next big fight

Across the country, Republicans are methodically setting their sights not only on big state and federal elections, but also on previously unremarkable local races. From city and county commissions to elections boards and — perhaps most chillingly — school boards, far-right Republican candidates are running campaigns based largely on fear and hate. And in many cases, they are winning. 

The Republican Party’s electoral strategy has been sickeningly consistent for decades: develop messages of fear and hate that resonate with their base and exploit the message to accumulate power and control. Today is no different. Republicans’ most recent message is “Save the Children from the Scary Liberals.” Whether stoking racist hate (see the Stop WOKE Act) or anti-LGBTQ hate (see the Don’t Say Gay Bill), this message forms the base for every policy proposal and political campaign. 

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News from the Civic Media Center

by Joe Courter

The Civic Media Center thanks JoJo Sacks for being the steady rock and creative spirit that rode the responsibility of the Civic Media Center valiantly through the Covid period of “what the hell are we gonna do” doubts. Her creativity with taking advantage of the new options social media offers, new ways of donating like Venmo and PayPal, all coupled with this community’s generosity when those stimulus checks rolled in, kept us afloat.

And then as things began to open up, JoJo resumed volunteer meetings and drew a vibrant pool of mostly new people attracted to the concepts and ongoing projects like Free Grocery Store (many had never been to a CMC event!). 

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Alachua County Labor Coalition to host Gainesville City Commission, mayoral candidate forums

The Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) will be hosting two forums with candidates in the upcoming Gainesville elections. Separate forums will be held for commission and mayoral candidates. ACLC members and the general public will ask questions on the topics of a living wage, affordable housing, transportation, health care, food access, corporate responsibity, criminal justice reform, and general governance. Prior to the forum, candidates will return ACLC questionnaires touching on the same topics.

The commissioner forum will take place on Thursday, July 14 at 6pm.

The mayoral forum will take place on Thursday, July 28 at 6pm.

Both forums will be held at Emmanuel Mennonite Church, 1236 NW 18th Ave. The ACLC is immensely grateful to Emmanuel Mennonite for the generosity in sharing their space.

ACLC Coordinator Bobby Mermer can be reached at Info@LaborCoalition.org should you have questions.

From the publisher … Compartmentalized minds

by Joe Courter

This information age we live in presents major challenges in coping. How do we sort through all the options available? 

Humans have never faced such an overwhelming array of stimuli and endless paths to follow. Unfortunately, since peace and tranquility are less attention grabbing, a lot offered is negative and disturbing. 

Doom scrolling is a real thing for many, and it is not healthy. Strategic and critical thinking is, to say the least, undervalued. And in a country that by design counts on an informed, participating citizenry (well, okay, in the beginning they really didn’t want everybody … some still don’t), it has created a very serious problem of people trapped in silos.

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VOTE Tuesday, August 23

by Joe Courter

CORRECTION/EDITORS’ NOTE: Please note that the July/August edition misstates Gary Gordon’s position regarding single family zoning. He supports single family zoning and is against the proposal that would change that. A missing word—”proposal”—in the original report creates the confusion. Again, he is against the exclusionary zoning proposal and supports single family zoning as we have it now.  Sorry for the confusion. It has been corrected in the article below.

The upcoming primary election on Aug. 23 will see the Democrats and Republicans narrowing their candidates down for the November midterm election races. 

In Alachua County the nonpartisan mayor, city commission, and school board races will be on the ballot as well as the circuit court judges race, with candidates trying to achieve that magical 50% + 1 in order to win their seats. However, if no candidate achieves that number, the seat will then be on the November midterm ballot for a runoff decision.

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Only in America: Stop gun violence now!

On June 11, shortly after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, a coalition of groups, under the banner of March for Our Lives Gainesville, organized a rally in Gainesville at Bo Diddley Plaza that marched to Depot Park. About 500 attended to hear speakers at both locations. Organizing groups included Moms Demand Action, Florida Forward, Planned Parenthood, UF College Democrats, and Young Democratic Socialists of America. Similar events took place across the country. 

A report from Vicki Machado, a Gainesville local who attended the DC rally, is on page 17.  Ashoka Singh Banerjee, a high school student, gave the following speech at the Gainesville rally. For more on the Gainesville rally, see tinyurl.com/Iguana1396. 

Every day for the last 10 years of my life I have woken up, gotten ready, and gone to school.

Every single day one of those days could have been the day in school that I was killed, by a random kid who had a bad day.

It makes me sick to know that my friends and I could have been the children hiding behind desks, covering ourselves in the blood of each other, just to survive another day.

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Editors’ picks: news that didn’t fit

Biden directs federal agencies to protect LGBTQIa+ rights under attack in GOP-led states
by Jacob Fischler | Florida Phoenix | June 15 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1415
President Biden signed an executive order aiming to curtail conversion therapy, expand health care access and promote safe learning for LGBTQI+ people. The order is meant to counter laws in Republican-led states that restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ kids. 

EXCLUSIVE: Now the far right is coming for college too – with taxpayer-funded “classical education”
by Kathryn Joyce | Salon | May 31 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1403
Republicans are channeling tax dollars to right-wing institutes at colleges across the nation. What’s the endgame?

Half in new poll say Trump tried to stay in office through illegal means
by Zach Schonfeld | The Hill | June 26 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1414
Half of U.S. adults believe former President Trump planned to remain in the presidency through illegal and unconstitutional activities.

Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as 1st Black woman to serve on Supreme Court
by Brendan Morrow | The Week | June 30 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1413
History has been made, as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is officially the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. 

Poll shows majority oppose Supreme Court’s attack on fundamental rights
by Julia Conley | Common Dreams | June 27 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1416
Fifty-six percent of respondents said they’re concerned the court will attack marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception.

‘Stay Woke Go Vote’: Florida Black Caucus launches campaign to empower voters
by Issac Morgan | Florida Phoenix | May 9 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1417
The Black delegation in the Florida Legislature and community activists are doubling down on efforts to empower Floridians to vote during the upcoming elections, with the launch of a campaign that pushes back against Republican lawmakers’ policies.

The Supreme Court’s shock-and-awe judicial coup
by Naomi Klein | The Intercept | June 30 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1406
The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over.

The war in Ukraine may be impossible to stop. And the U.S. deserves much of the blame.
by Christopher Caldwell | New York Times | May 31 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1408
A tragic, local and ambiguous conflict has been turned into a potential world conflagration.

UF’s Alligator student newspaper battled on front lines of abortion issues 50 years ago
by Katie Delk | The Gainesville Sun | June 26 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1404
In 1971, the University of Florida student newspaper printed a list of abortion referral agencies. The editor in chief was arrested and jailed.

What’s behind the antiabortion crackdown?
by Jenny Brown | Jacobin | tinyurl.com/Iguana1405
Since the turn of the 19th century, crackdowns on women’s reproductive rights have come in cycles. The attack isn’t only about controlling women, but about pushing up the birth rate to suit capital’s needs.

VFP Hosts 12th Annual Peace Poetry Reading and Reception, May 21

On Saturday, May 21, 26 students from Alachua County schools will read their peace poems aloud at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as winners of the 2022 Peace Poetry Contest.

The 12th annual Peace Poetry Contest began in January, inviting all K-12 students of Alachua County schools, both public and private, to submit one poem on what peace and social justice means to them. A team of community writers and poets judged the almost 200 poems submitted, according to age group.

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VFP Awards $1,500 to four Peace Scholarship Recipients

This year, Veterans for Peace in Gainesville is pleased to award four $1,500 Peace Scholarship awards, a college scholarship program for Alachua County students. The scholarship competition was open to eligible high school seniors, college students, and adults who need financial support to succeed in college and who have demonstrated a commitment and leadership in activities involving peace and social justice and/or nonviolent social change.

Peace scholarship applicants were asked to provide a brief autobiographical statement and evidence of leadership and/or personal initiative in activities in an organization (including volunteer or paid work) relating to peace and social justice, conflict resolution and/or nonviolent social change. Applicants were also asked to provide two letters of recommendation. In the end, VFP awarded peace scholarships to four students in the amount of $1,500 each. The scholarships were awarded to:

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CMC Springboard event: Professor Lorna Bracewell to discuss new book: ‘a gripping social history of feminist political theory’

Who: Dr. Lorna Bracewell, Flagler College professor
What: Book talk on Why We Lost the Sex Wars: Sexual Freedom in the #MeToo Era.
Where: Civic Media Center, 433 S. Main St., Gainesville
When: Saturday, June 4, 6:30pm
Cost: $10 (donation) students, $20 (donation) others

by the CMC Board

Please join the Civic Media Center Board on Saturday, June 4, at 6:30pm, to hear Dr. Lorna Bracewell discuss her new book, Why We Lost the Sex Wars: Sexual Freedom in the #MeToo Era

Dr. Bracewell’s book is a timely and urgent reconsideration of feminist debates on sexual freedom in the 1990s. An important intervention into feminist history, Why We Lost the Sex Wars traces utopian attempts to redefine the imagination of sex and sexual freedom, and the ensuing debates that still influence us today.

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