Category Archives: January-February 2012

January/February 2012 Gainesville Iguana

Can’t get into town for the print Iguana? Or did you make it to the box a little late this month? 

Well, don’t worry! We have the whole issue here for your perusal. Click here for the January/February 2012 issue of the Iguana.

Introducing Mr. Econ

Are you confused about the economy and economics? Are you curious about the various economic proposals coming from presidential candidates or local politicians? Would you like to know what all the commotion about derivatives, credit default swaps, foreclosures and sub-prime mortgages is about and how it affects you?

Do you wonder how locally owned institutions like the Iguana, the local food co-op or credit unions help your community? Or how about demand side and supply side economics? Or wonder which side you’re on or should be on?

Help is on the way! Beginning in our March issue, Mr. Econ will answer our readers’ questions and answer them in plain English. Our goal is to give our readers a better understanding of the economy and how we might be able to change it in order to better serve our community.

So please send your questions to or comment on this post.

Who is Mr. Econ? Mr. Econ holds economics degrees from American University and the New School for Social Research, two of the premier centers for the study of alternative or what the profession calls “heterodox” economics. He is the author or editor of three books and numerous articles in scholarly and popular publications. He has taught on the university level, consulted to progressive policy makers around the U.S., and been invited to speak on economic and community development issues from Bath, Maine to Santa Cruz, Calif.

The Iguana Bids Farewell to Editor Emeritus Mark Piotrowski

by joe courter

Homegrown Gainesville community organizer and swell human being Mark Piotrowski, who most recently designed the Iguana in its revived presence over the past year, has embarked on a new phase of his life with a move to Tallahassee to work with the Florida Education Association and his impending entry into fatherhood with his partner Janeen. That will be one well-loved kid.

Mark first came into contact with us while still in high school more than 20 years ago, when a friend of his passed a copy of the Iguana on to him. He became a student activist at UF in the Freedom Coalition and was part of the founding of the Civic Media Center in 1993. He also worked on the Freedom Coalition’s newspaper as well as assisting the Iguana during that period. He has been a committed movement activist ever since, whether here in town with the Labor Party, or during his sojourns out of town in Boston or elsewhere.

When we produce this paper and turn each month’s 4,500 copies out on the world, all we can hope is that the information within can raise the knowledge and consciousness of the persons reading it, let them know of events and struggles near and far, or connect them to historic movements of the past on which we all stand. We usually don’t know what sparks we set off, but in Mark’s case, thanks to his friend Lara, we and the movement gained one hell of an organizer. We know he’ll be back, but we want to publicly wish him and Janeen the best of luck as this next phase of life unfolds.

Peg Libertus, Local Activist and Playwright: 1944-2011

The following is an excerpt from Peg Libertus’ obituary published in the Gainesville Sun.

“Peg” Margaret Joan Libertus, 67, died September 26, 2011 from complications of ovarian cancer… In Gainesville, Peg taught drama at Santa Fe College’s Continuing Education Program. She was awarded a State of Florida Individual Artist’s Grant for her fiction writing. She encouraged many others in their creativity, especially local writers. Her greatest theatrical accomplishment was the completion of the musical “The Boxer of Basin Street” presented at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre in Gainesville.

Peg had a strong commitment to community service and political activism ranging from the street protests at the National Democratic convention in 1968 to the soup kitchen of St. Francis House here in Gainesville. Over the years, she served as board member or advisory committee member for various agencies: North Central Florida Health Planning Council, State of Florida Prevention of Disabilities Advisory Council, Alachua County/City of Gainesville Cultural Affairs Board, and the Center for Independent Living. Peg also contributed her writing and graphic skills to the St. Francis House newsletter and to the United Way of Alachua County. Peg was a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party and a Party volunteer during many national and local elections. She advocated for the rights of the handicapped.

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The Florida Legislature’s Attack on Women

by staci fox

On Jan. 10, the Florida Legislature began its 2012 session. The focus of the 2012 legislative session should be on strengthening our economy and getting Floridians back to work, not attacking Florida’s women and their access to reproductive health care.

Some of the most egregious bills attacking reproductive health care are:

HB 277/SB 290: These bills would limit access to reproductive health care services such as life-saving cancer screenings because a health center also provides abortion care. The proposed legislation only targets doctors that provide abortion care; therefore, it has only one purpose – to interfere with patient care and further restrict women’s access to legal, safe abortions.

HB 839: This bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks with limited exceptions (if the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life or could cause her “substantial and irreversible physical impairment”). There are no exemptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.

HB 1151/SB 1374: These bills are a direct legislative attempt to challenge the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision by outlawing almost all abortions in Florida.

These bills do nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. Instead these bills tell women and their healthcare providers that they are not to be trusted and reduce access to legal health care services. These bills will do nothing to create jobs or balance our state’s budget.

Planned Parenthood of North Florida, along with the other Florida Planned Parenthood affiliates, will work hard to prevent these bills from becoming law, but we need your help.

On Feb. 21, hundreds of Floridians will travel to Tallahassee to lobby and make their voices heard in support of reproductive health care for Florida’s women and families. Will you join us? Please contact Planned Parenthood of North Florida for more information at (352)376-9000.

Staci Fox is the CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of North Florida. 

Veterans for Peace Connects with Occupy Gainesville

By Mary Bahr, Gainesville Veterans for Peace member

Occupy Gainesville protests outside of Wells Fargo in Downtown Gainesville. Photo by Mary Bahr.

Dennis Lane, executive director of National Veterans for Peace, said the cost of war can be seen today “in family and community violence, in the human and environmental impact of depleted uranium and a wide variety of chemical exposures, and in a weakened domestic economy and de-funded health, education and other social programs.”

You may have seen the Gainesville Vets for Peace Cost of War program. It gives the cost of war to our local community and to the state of Florida, as well as the national costs in blood and taxes.

The data is derived from the National Priorities Project Cost of War project at These pages will give you the cost in tax dollars on counters that change every second and will also offer tradeoffs (what those dollars could have bought in our domestic economy had we not spent them on war).

Even with troops withdrawing from Iraq, many troops and support personnel will be left behind. We still have to pay the costs of equipment replacement and health care, which are projected to total a trillion dollars each. And then there’s still Afghanistan.

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Tainted Coal: Mountaintop Removal and GRU

Photo courtesy of

By Jason Fults, Gainesville Loves Mountains

For the past few decades, Appalachian coal companies have sought to erase the gains of some of the most hard-fought labor struggles in U.S. history by reducing their workforce through mechanization.

Large deep-mining operations employing union miners have been replaced with millions of pounds of explosives and draglines more than 20 stories tall. This method of coal mining is referred to as “mountaintop removal” (MTR), and as its name implies, its impact on local ecosystems is devastating.

I lived in Appalachia for several years, and it was there that images of MTR and its effects on the people and landscapes of the region were burned into my consciousness–images that I carry with me many years later.

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Occupy the Courts! Dr. Cornel West Speaks in Gainesville on Jan. 20

by Nancy Jones and Tommy Baker of Move to Amend gainesville

Grassroots movements across the country are gaining momentum at a rate unprecedented in modern times, due largely to Occupy Wall Street.

Ending “Corporate Personhood” with a Constitutional amendment is one such national movement that has taken root in Gainesville, where we’ve recently started a new local chapter of the national Move to Amend organization.

On Jan. 21, 2010, the U. S. Supreme Court took an extreme step to further remove American citizens from the election process by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) court ruling was the culmination of efforts by the wealthiest individuals to hijack the people’s government and increase their power and wealth.

The 2012 presidential election is expected to have the most extravagant spending of any election in history. Kantar Media, a company that tracks advertising, reported $5.8 million spent on TV ads in the Iowa Republican primaries prior to Dec. 30, most of those being negative attack ads.

The ruling not only equates money to speech but also makes it federal law under the U.S. Constitution that corporations have the same 1st Amendment rights intended for people (“Corporate Personhood”). Corporations are amassing more wealth than ever before in history, and it is time to push back. Efforts being taken locally include a protest, “Occupy the Courts”, at the Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville on Friday, Jan. 20 at 1 p.m., the day before the second anniversary of the court ruling. This event is particularly exciting because Dr. Cornel West, a long-time civil rights activist and national best-selling author, will be speaking.

To find out more or to be a part of the local chapter of Move to Amend, attend the rally, visit Facebook’s MovetoAmend Gainesville page, or send an email to Help end corporate personhood and bring democracy to “We the People.”

History and the People Who Make It: Margaret Block

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

This is the sixth in a continuing series of excerpts from transcripts in the collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Lifelong civil rights activist Margaret Block was interviewed by Paul Ortiz on September 18, 2008.

I got involved in the movement like in – when I was about 10 years old, I used to hang around with this man named Mr. Amzie Moore. They organized the Regional Council on Negro Leadership, and I was aware of something being wrong because listening to my parents and everybody talk about it. I wasn’t able to do anything until 1961 when I graduated from high school. Then I joined the movement. I didn’t join SNCC until ’62 because we didn’t have nothing in Cleveland [Mississippi] in 1961 but the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and I joined it. That was we were teaching people how to read and write and how to take that test that you had to take from the state of Mississippi interpreting the Constitution.

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