Category Archives: Articles

Short hand voter guide

President, Representatives, Commissioners: Vote Democrat 

Judges: Yes to Lewis and Makar; No to others 

State Amendments: Yes on #2; No on #1, 3, 4; Leaning No on #5, 6 

County Referenda: All Yes 

Gainesville Referenda: All Yes 

October is Civic Media Center’s anniversary month

by JoJo Sacks, CMC Coordinator

As we move into fall and remain at home during the pandemic, the Civic Media Center, though closed for events, has been putting together online programming to keep our community engaged. 

In September, volunteers organized our first virtual CMC book club, reading adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. Organizers held a discussion about the need to stand for Black communities and against the gentrification of the historic Seminary Lane neighborhood. (See related story on page 9.)

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October events include farmers markets, art show

Every Thursday: A Downtown Market is being hosted by Heartwood Soundstage at 619 S. Main St. on Thursdays from 4-7pm with music and vendors. Masking  and distancing is required. The first one was Oct. 1 and had a good turn-out with a similar vibe to the Wednesday Bo Diddley Market, which was suspended due to Covid. Not a lot of farmers at the first one, but it may grow. Other markets continue at Cypress & Grove on Mondays from 4-7pm, at Celebration Point on Wednesdays from 4-7 and Haile Plantation on Saturdays from 8:30am til noon.

Saturday, Oct. 17, in conjunction with the Women’s March in DC, a local Women’s March event will be held at Bo Diddley Plaza from 10 am until noon.

Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3pm, to mark the Civic Media Center’s 27th anniversary, Solidarity not Charity is a Zoom event on Mutual Aid, citing examples from history with the Black Panthers and others to current efforts in Gainesville. More information is listed in the article below.

Friday, Oct. 23, South Main Art Hub at 435 S.Main St. will host Spacial Inclinations, an indoor/outdoor socially distanced mask-requiring art show.  Parking and entry from SE 5th Ave.

Saturday, Oct. 24 features the UN association Zoom event (see page 14), and an actual outdoors out-of-town event at Rodman Dam on the Ocklawaha River (see page 10).

And of course this year no FEST, no theater, minimal live music, but Zoom meetings, blocked off city streets,  parks and nature remain … hang in there, we’ll get through this.

History and the people who make it: Gainesville Women for Equal Rights – Part 3

Jane Hiers [H], Jean Chalmers [C], Cora Roberson [R], Vivian Filer [F], and David Chalmers [DC] speak in April 2009 with interviewer Steve Davis about their time working with Gainesville Women for Equal Rights (GWER), one of the first integrated organizations in Gainesville. 

This is the 62nd in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection; other parts of this excerpt appeared in the July-August and September Iguanas.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

C: Remember when we investigated the Department of Welfare? 

First, we found out that one of the county commissioners’ parents were on welfare. So we thought, “Well, we’d really like to look at the rolls and see who’s on welfare.” And we never could. I won’t mention her name, but every time we went, there was some reason we couldn’t see the rolls. 

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The United Nations on Its 75th Anniversary: Alachua County, City of Gainesville proclaim Oct. 24 United Nations Day

by Jacob U. Gordon, Ph.D., Chair, UN Day 2020 Working Group, UNA*USA Gainesville

The United Nations was founded on Oct. 24, 1945 in San Francisco. Its purpose was to promote international cooperation after the devastating World Wars I and II.  

The Gainesville Chapter, United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA*USA) will commemorate the UN’s 75th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9am to 1pm. This  program will take place as a virtual conference via Zoom, due to the coronavirus. This will allow us to have an international audience. 

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Adam Christensen’s vision for the future

by Hannah Jacobs

The Adam Christensen for Congress Campaign to fill the vacant seat in Florida’s 3rd district has become a powerful force in the progressive movement growing among all demographics. 

The campaign has been endorsed by prominent figures across the spectrum, including former presidential candidates Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang, as well as organizations No Dem Left Behind, Florida College Democrats, Humanity Forward, and the local chapter of Our Revolution. The support from social media followers and constituents in the district is proof of the traction Adam Christensen’s political philosophies have earned him. 

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October 12 is now Indigenous People’s Day

Be happy to know that Gainesville permanently dumped Columbus Day (a federal holiday since 1937) in 2018. We are the only city in Florida to have made the change.  No celebrations will occur this year due to Covid, but there very likely will be a proclamation at the Oct. 12 City Commission meeting and an acknowledgement on the City’s Facebook page. This all came about from the grassroots spearheaded by Sylvia Paluzzi, of Morning  Meadow Pre-School and Kindergarten working with the City Commission. Current Mayor Lauren Poe is supportive of bringing attention to the Native people who preceded us on this land, and has promised that in 2021, if we’re out of the pandemic woods by then, a series of City supported events will be held to mark this overlooked history.

Free the Ocklawaha: World Fish Migration Day Oct. 24

by Jennifer Carr, President, Florida Defenders of the Environment

According to NOAA Fisheries, it is estimated that more than 2 million dams in the U.S., and even more culverts and other barriers, block fish from migrating upstream. This has contributed to the decline of many fish populations. 

It was recently mentioned in the Florida Specifier that the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership has an online prioritization tool for dam removal. The Rodman/Kirkpatrick ranks as one of the three highest priority dams for removal out of over 2,500 aquatic barriers in Florida, based on the amount of habitat to be gained and the condition of the watershed. 

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Save Seminary Lane: Once a vibrant, diverse community

by Neighbors Standing with Seminary Lane 

Once upon a time there was a beautiful neighborhood in the center of Gainesville. It was called Seminary Lane. 

It had a school (currently named A. Quinn Jones Education Center, soon to be renamed), barber and beauty shops, nurseries for children, mom and pop places to eat, locally owned funeral homes and a place where music played and people danced.

People thrived in their community. African-American people. They had homes they could afford in a place they loved. Having been pushed there during the Jim Crow area, they built a vibrant, diverse, historically African-American community which is now prey for developers seeking to build luxury student rental housing.

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City of Gainesville considering moratorium on development in historically Black neighborhoods

by Deidre Houchen, Member, Moratorium Committee

The City of Gainesville Commission is considering a moratorium on major development in historic and historically Black neighborhoods. On Oct. 15, they will meet again in what we expect will be another long discussion on the merits of this proposal. We urge the Commission to vote for a moratorium. We urge you to contact your commission to support this proposal. 

On Aug. 31, the City Commission voted to direct the City Attorney and the City Manager to come back to the Commission with the first draft of an ordinance to enact a moratorium for a period of time to be determined by the city attorney and city manager effective immediately, for major residential and non-residential development with a map of boundaries encompassing Fifth Ave, Pleasant Street, Springhill, Duckpond, Duval, Sugarhill, Porters, North Lincoln Heights, Oakview and Northeast Neighbors, not including Downtown.

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Science bus coming to town

by Nkwanda Jah

This fall, the Cultural Arts Coalition will introduce our Science Bus, an interactive Science experience for students throughout Alachua County. 

The exhibits aboard the bus are similar to those pioneered by Brian Jones of University of Colorado, Ft. Collins and his “Little Shop of Physics.” 

These exhibits have two main features: They capture and frame otherwise unusual physical phenomenon, and they will use inexpensive and readily available materials to construct demonstrations. 

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Comments on Coronavirus …

by Joe Courter

So Trump and others in the administration tested positive. October Surprise #1. How this plays out regarding campaigning, debates and the election remains to be seen. I can’t help but wonder if we are being played. You, who are reading this now, know more than I do writing this on Oct. 2.

The University reopening has predictably led to many scenes of unmasked students clustered together at bars and on the sidewalks. We people who live in town and have been doing a good job of masking and distancing are rightly appalled. And not just for ourselves, but for the service workers, store workers, and university employees who may become infected due to the University’s decisions. Yes, they are covering their asses with strict rules on campus, but we in the community are suffering the consequences of the off-campus behavior.

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From the publisher: Get out the vote

by Joe Courter

I watched the first Presidential debate to get some clarity on writing this Publisher’s Note for the last Iguana before the Nov. 3 election. I had fortified myself by reading Carl Hiaasen’s great new book Squeeze Me one of his best and a brutally funny take down of Trump, his devotees, and wealthy South Florida elites. And pythons.  I finished the book at 7:30pm Tuesday night and at 9pm I was ready with glass and bottle of $3.99 wine.  It was something …

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Letter to the Editor: Alford has experience, ethics

During my advocacy work in Columbia Co. during the last ten years or so, I have had the opportunity to travel to many of the counties in North Central Florida and I always admired the overall progressive quality and ethics of Alachua County’s Commission. 

Mary Alford is highly qualified and likely to continue this heritage. Endorsing her is simple and easy because I have known her personally for several years, since she shows up often in the right places doing admirable things to improve her county and state. These efforts are usually volunteer and provide her with lots of experience in working with local government.

I do not know her Republican rival, but upon researching her, the first thing I found is that Keith Perry endorsed her, and that is enough to know that she does not have the mindset to improve life in Alachua County. Further research bore this out, as her accomplishments absolutely pale compared to Mary Alford’s.

Mary Alford is smart, hard-working, capable and experienced.

Jim Tatum
112 W. Minnehaha St.
Tampa, FL 33604
(352) 213-3916 D

Trump Contracting Covid 19

by Joe Courter

With publishing there are schedules and deadlines. Breaking news for a monthly is problematic, it means you won’t have any mention of a really big story, you put in a short acknowledgment, or you do the classic “Stop the Presses!”

The Iguana faced this when airplanes flew into building in Sept. 2001. Something big had just happen, the ramifications of which we knew would be big, but would not be known for days and weeks. We were wrapping up production. This feels similar.

How this plays out we do not know. The physical outcome for Trump to the invading virus and effectiveness of treatments they give him…unknown. How will this affect campaigning in the days left before the election? Unknown. Will this overshadow everything else with a big sympathy vote? Unknown. But here we are, October 5.  Ink is hitting the paper today. Let’s hope he lives to see the vote in November, and that it is a massive repudiation of his incompetent leadership.

Vote!

by Jeremiah Tattersall, from thestrawhat.org

Note: The Iguana is happy to have Jeremiah Tattersall’s permission to run his voter guide again. He is a hard working organizer with the AFL-CIO and a committed watchdog on local issues. While he is a bit flip and loose,  it does not take away from the serious consideration given each item. Also, please know that on Oct. 4 the League of Women Voters had their candidate forum via Zoom, and things being what they are, that will also mean it should be available for all the see at their Facebook or website, so check it out. We will note that the recommendations here are not just Jeremiah’s, but also largely correspond to voting guides of local organizations such as Women for Wise Growth, the Democratic Executive Committee, the Human Rights Campaign and Sierra Club, the only differences being Judge retentions and State Amendments 5 and 6. 

So yes, this is short and a little more bitter than a usual voter guide. Leave a comment and I’ll respond for clarification. And I don’t want to hear it about not voting. Just freaking vote. 

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Thank you, Dream Defenders

by Joe Courter

Never in my nearly 70 years on this planet has there been as much heightened consciousness about systemic racism and brutality dished out on people of color as right now. 

Thanks to cell phones and people not afraid to get them out and record, as well the requirement that police wear body cameras, and that their dash board camera footage can be forced to be released, has the public actually seen what has been going on for, well, centuries.  

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October 2020 Gainesville Iguana

The October 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.

The time for tenant power is now

By Cristina Cabada, Alachua County Labor Coalition Coordinator

It’s no surprise that Gainesville has been suffering from a housing crisis for decades. However, the almost radioactive effects of the covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have led to the worst housing crisis of the century. 

The statewide eviction moratorium has effectively delayed hundreds of evictions from being filed. In spite of this, as soon as Governor DeSantis’ order expires on Sept. 1, hundreds in our community will be facing wrongful evictions. 

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History and the people who make it: Gainesville Women for Equal Rights – Part 2

Jane Hiers [H], Jean Chalmers [C], Cora Roberson [R], Vivian Filer [F], and David Chalmers [DC] speak in April 2009 with interviewer Steve Davis [D] about their time working with Gainesville Women for Equal Rights (GWER), one of the first integrated organizations in Gainesville. 

This is the 61st in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection; part 1 of this excerpt appeared in the July-August Iguana.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

C: Alachua General Hospital, of course, was owned by the county. And the county government was fighting with the doctors. Two county commissioners: G.M. Davis and Sid [Martin], were friendly to our cause. The two of them said, “We’ll get even with those doctors. We’ll appoint Jean Chalmers to the Board of Trustees.” [Laughter] Here was this committee member who’d caused so much trouble, and they put me on the board. You should’ve seen the faces of the men when I walked in. And I stayed on that board until 1982.

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