Author Archives: admin

Update on GRU takeover

by Jason Fults

Over the past several months, Iguana readers have been kept apprised of the slow-motion trainwreck that is the new “GRU Authority.” This Authority has been forced on us after a decade of public resistance by legislation, HB 1645, brought to us by Representative Chuck Clemons and Senator Keith Perry, and followed by Governor DeSantis’s initial appointments to the Board. This bill has split our city government into two parts: General Government, run by our elected officials; and GRU, a city department/utility in charge of our energy and water supply, now controlled by a state-appointed Board, with no checks and balances or accountability. Now that their first few months of meetings are behind us, and some concrete themes are beginning to emerge, here are some of their most notable decisions, actions, and attitudes to date:

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Tell Congress ‘No’ to a secretive ‘Fiscal Commission’

by Tia Maria

A so-called “fiscal commission” proposed by House Republicans should alarm senior citizens and others who depend on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

At press time, HR 5779 (the Fiscal Commission Act) and the companion bill in the Senate, S. 3262 (the Fiscal Stability Act), would target worthy programs for cuts. 

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UF plans to raze nearly 200 trees for unneeded parking lot

by Savanna Green, The UF Understory Protectors

In December, after receiving dozens of comments in opposition, the UF Lakes, Vegetation, and Landscaping Committee (LVLC) postponed a vote on approval of a disastrous plan to cut down 182 large trees. 

The  trees, just west of campus (north of Hull Road, west of SW 34 St.) would be eliminated to expand a parking lot for the UF Health Ortho Building by a few dozen spaces — part of a bigger plan to expand the building into its existing parking lot. 

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From the publisher… We can do better

by Joe Courter

Here we are in another election year, with various states hosting primaries for President (with Biden unopposed here in Florida), but up ahead is very meaningful primary voting on August 20 for the candidates for the state and local races we will see on the Nov. 5 ballot along with the Senate and Presidential candidates.

“Election stuff … too soon!” you might say, but no, it is important how we think about this flawed but very real process we have in this country. Iguana co-founder and now Labor Notes editor Jenny Brown raised the notion of “defensive voting” to me, and it resonated. You may not be getting what you want, candidate or policy wise, but you are at least salvaging better chances for what you want in the future. It’s a more constructive view than “lesser of two evils.”

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Civic Media Center update

Here in the CMC’s 30th year, there are perhaps more volunteers who are part of the activities than ever, much of it direct action that helps people with food, basic necessities, and material support, along with the library, the music shows, poetry jam and varied events put on by the CMC or other organizations.  

The CMC is a life changer for many people, which is something that hasn’t changed. It inspires, educates, and makes personal connections that last for years. 

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Let rage, hope co-exist to fuel your organizing

by Diana Moreno

It felt insane to have gone through a holiday season where we’re surrounded by messages of “Peace on Earth” and told to have a “Happy New Year” while a genocide takes place in Palestine. It feels insane to go through the motion of life under capitalism while a genocide rages, while families starve, are displaced, and buried under rubble. So how do we keep going without despair setting in? 

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Urgent call for ceasefire in Gaza by Alachua County  healthcare workers  

Since Jan. 22, health care workers in Alachua County have been circulating a letter to the Alachua County Commissioners, urging them to pass a county ceasefire resolution. 

So far 100 local health care workers (including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, anesthesiologists, midwives, and many others) have signed the letter. Out of this action, the Alachua County Health Care Workers for Gaza is forming a new community group. Follow them on instagram @alachuahealthcare4gaza or reach out by email at: healthcareworkers4gaza@gmail.com 

The letter is printed below and can also be accessed at tinyurl.com/Iguana1951. Please sign on!

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On Palestine

by Maya Velesko

I’ve been thinking of my parents a lot recently, and telling friends that they are surely both “turning in their graves” over the current scenes on the world stage. 

My father was a Ukrainian émigré, escaping the Russians with his family during WW2. He would be dismayed over the recent loss of land and life in Ukraine. As a forty-year veteran of the United States Foreign Service, he would have much to say about what is occurring behind the closed doors of global boardrooms and government offices as well as the blatant selective employment of international law and humane compassion by our institutions and mainstream media. 

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March 2024 Gainesville Iguana

The March 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.

Editors’ picks: News that didn’t fit

AAUP votes to sanction New College of Florida 
The American Association of University Professors’ governing Council voted unanimously to add New College of Florida to their list of institutions sanctioned for substantial noncompliance with widely accepted standards of academic government. They said that the college’s board of trustees and administration thoroughly restructured the college’s academic offerings without meaningful faculty involvement and denied academic due process to multiple faculty members.
from AAUP.org | tinyurl.com/Iguana1896

Alachua County’s journey to truth and reconciliation
Over the past six years, Alachua County and hundreds of community members have embarked on a Truth and Reconciliation project in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. The project shines a light on the dark side of our county’s history and looks for healing. The result of that work led to the creation of a unique county-wide effort unlike anywhere else in Florida – and arguably the nation – at a time when talking about race relations and slavery has been considered controversial by some.
by Andrew Caplan | tinyurl.com/Iguana1900

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Roller Rebels looking for tenants to support practice space

by Polly Cline (AKA Sic O. Spellcheck)

Ask anyone who’s lived in Gainesville for ten or fifteen years — a lot has changed. 

One element of Gainesville that’s remained constant since 2007: the Gainesville Roller Rebels (GRR), Gainesville’s local, not-for-profit, skater- and volunteer-run roller derby league. 

Since roller derby’s mid-aughts revival, GRR has brought athleticism, empowerment, and inclusion to the Gainesville community. After our 2023 season, we’re stronger than ever with 27 new league members, sponsorships from a number of local businesses, and standing room only games. 

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History and the people who make it: Scott Camil (Part 3)

This month, we continue highlighting a Gainesville activist, veteran, honored hero, and friend of SPOHP, Scott Camil. Scott is a member of the Gainesville Eight: the group of seven Vietnam War veterans and one civilian who were caught in a conspiracy by the FBI, who attempted to frame them for terroristic threats. 

In this 2005 interview with John Aversono (A), Camil (C) shares about his upbringing, his time in the Marine Corps from training to combat, and how he became an antiwar activist. Be advised that there is profanity and graphic descriptions of war. 

Transcript edited by Donovan Carter. 

A: Once you got back to the States, what did you do?

C: I reported back to Camp Lejeune, to India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines. I became a platoon sergeant, [a] senior NCO. My job is to wake people up, make sure the barracks are cleaned, get them their chow, have them at morning formation, make sure everybody is here, find what they are supposed to do for the day and get them off to do that. 

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Volunteer with the Alachua County Crisis Center

The Alachua County Crisis Center is currently recruiting volunteers to answer our local crisis hotline, as well as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

The Alachua County Crisis Center provides free and confidential crisis response services to Gainesville and the surrounding community, almost all of which are provided by highly trained volunteers. 

Volunteering with the Crisis Center is a great way to support our community and those in need, while also learning valuable communication skills you can use for the rest of your life.  

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‘Dump the Dump!’ 

Southeast Gainesville residents continue to demand

by Suzmiché Morris

At a Jan. 3 press conference organized outside the Alachua County Administration Building, a coalition of southeast Gainesville residents was joined by supporters from the local NAACP and Sierra Club chapters to encourage their neighbors from the Kincaid Loop/Boulware Springs neighborhood to continue their struggle to permanently close the Florence Construction and Demolition Debris Landfill. Residents have organized around public health and environmental concerns regarding land use and the quality of the community’s groundwater and air. The landfill is within 400 feet of the working-class neighborhoods with their many homes, churches, farms, nature parks, and schools.

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Don’t dump the dump!

by Richard Hamann, Environmental Law researcher

I support the permit modification that would allow Florence Recycling to fill space on the existing footprint of Construction and Demolition Debris Disposal Facility to a higher elevation than is currently authorized. 

The Florence family has operated this facility for many years with no adverse effects on the environment or the surrounding community. As someone who has lived on property adjacent to the SE corner of the landfill site since 1983, I can make that statement based on personal observation. 

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Veterans for Peace 10th Annual College Scholarship Program for Alachua County Students

Deadline for Submitting Application, Friday, April 15, 2024

Gainesville Veterans for Peace Chapter 14 is excited to announce our 10th annual Peace Scholarship Program for the spring of 2024. We will be awarding three $1,500 each for high school seniors, college students or adults. Recipients must demonstrate commitment to one or more social justice activities which may include: peace and nonviolence, intersectional coalition building, Black Lives Matter, women’s reproductive freedom, environmental sustainability, economic justice, education, and social change.

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Women’s History Month Brunch, March 9

The Democratic Women’s Club of Alachua County will be holding the 9 th annual Women’s History Month Brunch on Saturday, March 9, from 10 am-12 noon. The speakers will be Pat McCullough, the campaign manager for Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan, and other well-known Democrats.

We have invited and hope to have Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Florida State Senator from Miami-Dade County and candidate challenging Senator Rick Scott, as our keynote speaker.

Brunch will be held at the Best Western Gateway Grand in Gainesville.

Sponsorships and candidate tables are available. Cost will be $75 per person or $525 for an 8-person table. Reservations must be made by March 4. Seating is limited. Contact Treasurer Dee Williams(ddw@eastpassage.us) for reservations and more information. 

The symphony of our democracy 

The  League of Women Voters promotes and protects women’s voices needed to maintain representative balance

By Stefanie Gadalean 

The grand experiment of American democracy can be compared to that of a symphony: they both rely on a harmony of diverse melodies to uplift the full potential of their respective masterpieces. Each citizen’s contribution to the democratic orchestra, akin to an instrumental note, plays a crucial role in creating representative governance. Comparable to how a diverse ensemble is needed to achieve true harmony, our nation thrives off the cooperation of multiple perspectives to achieve a country for the people and by the people. 

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‘Unity in education: A resolve for equality’

 by Tina Certain, District 1 Alachua County School Board Member

As we begin this new year, I stand before you, not just as a school board member but as a member of our community, with a resolute spirit to foster unity and optimism for our educational future.

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us of the ongoing fight for equality. In our schools, we face disparities that persist—segregated systems and unequal opportunities. It’s time to ensure that a student’s zip code or race never dictates their access to quality education.

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From the publisher… Looking ahead

by Joe Courter

Entering a new year, there are all sorts of retrospectives produced, and indeed there are a few within these pages. But I want to look ahead at the coming year and its challenges.

I started making a list of the things I see ahead — pivotal important issues. My list included the horrible ongoing armed conflicts, the ever obvious climate dysfunction, and the danger of information technology further aiding those with no regard for truth to create false narratives and bogus information. 

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