Category Archives: November-December 2012

A New Site for the One-Stop Homeless Service

by arupa freeman

The Gainesville City Commission is going to pursue the purchase of the former Gainesville Correctional Institution (GCI) on the 2800 block of NE 39th Avenue as a possible site for the long-discussed One-Stop homeless service center and shelter. This property is available since the state has declared it surplus and given the city government the option to buy it. The GCI building has many rooms with bunk beds, bathrooms, a large institutional kitchen and offices, so it would not require extensive, costly renovations. It is located near a jail and an airport, making it a tough sell that some NIMBY’s (“Not In My Back Yard)  property values are going to be damaged by its presence. It is on a bus line, and has sidewalks and a bike trail.

This site is vastly superior to the 53rd Avenue site, where the One-Stop would have to be created from scratch and may never happen anyhow, since it faces years of litigation from the local NIMBY, and has not received a sign-off from the St. Johns Water Management District, which must agree to any facility located so close to wetlands. The 53rd Street site brings to mind a homeless shelter and camping ground located on the backsides of hell. Our homeless people, many of them old and medically fragile, would be living and camping on a site adjacent to a cement plant, a diesel yard and a swamp. This site has no sidewalks, no bike trail, no nearby stores, and is not on a bus line. I have privately thought that the NIMBY fighting this location is doing the homeless community a favor.

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Note from the Publisher: Big Wins, Big Money Loses… But Now What?

joe-WEBby joe courter

There was a very happy vibe at the Farmers Market on Nov. 7, one day after the election results came in. That blue spot on the north Florida map was a source of pride for ex-pat Gainesvillians in other cities as well as locally. As with the nation, organizing trumped money and hopes triumphed over fears. Here locally, it was people power knocking on doors, phoning, mailing, and, most importantly, unity. Nationally, it was tactics on the Electoral College realities; and what a relief that, even with Florida SNAFU’ed, our electoral votes were not even needed. Despite the weak media analysis on issues, the Republicans were very helpful in providing unforgettable moments of inarticulateness and ham-handed voter suppression, and they clarified for us who we were up against.
Ironically, the national scene is quite unchanged between the House, Senate and Executive branches.  Thanks to all these safe districts that have been drawn, there was not a lot of turnover; some gains on the Left, and some even further-to-the-right Republicans coming in. Will the Right dare to enforce four more years of non-cooperation? How far will Obama compromise? The big question to me is whether Obama will call on we the people to back him up and, as with FDR, make him do the stuff we really want and need, or if we just watch.
Elsewhere you will find Juan Cole’s list of 10 things we should work to make Obama do; and of course it is an incomplete list. We need to get our electoral system into independent hands. According to Norm Ornstein on Fresh Air on Nov. 7, the U.S. is alone in not having an independent body overseeing its elections. The U.S. drone policy is creating enemies more than helping things; without even firing, they are terrorizing innocent people, let alone all the collateral damage they have unleashed. Science and reality-based thinking needs to be supported over ideological belief systems, be it Creationism or the benefits of an unregulated “free market.” Newly elected area congressman (and Tea Party darling)Ted Yoho, in a forum I attended, in one answer called for less government spending, letting private industry take the lead, and extolled how great the1960’s commitment to go to the moon was. THAT WAS GOVERNMENT SPENDING that led to all the spin-off benefits. Sheeesh!
We had great gains locally on the County Commission and School Board. Thank you to all who made that happen. We citizens need to support these bodies as they do their work, go to meetings, offer helpful comments and have their back.

Voting is important, but it is but a small part of what civic responsibility is all about.

Wage Theft in Alachua County: Too Often, Too Common

by thomas baker

When someone breaks into your home and steals your property, there is a well known number to call to report the crime, and there is a legal system to come to your defense. When hard at work and owed money by your employer, what is the number to call when the check does not arrive?

Lauren Walls had very few resources at hand after the restaurant she worked for five years ago stole her tips.

“The cooks got tipped out, the bussers got tipped out, and then there was a mystery tip out that did not add up,” Walls said.

The more she asked about where the tips went to, she said, “the more I was taken off the schedule.” Walls did not receive her last pay check after she quit, though owed a few hundred dollars; between school and looking for her next job, she did not feel like it was worth hiring a lawyer over.

Unpaid overtime, paid under minimum wage, misclassification as an independent contractor, forced to work off the clock or during meal breaks, altered employee time cards, deducting money from paychecks, getting paid late, or not getting paid at all – in the state of Florida, there are few options to recover wages legally owed to employees.

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Stetson Kennedy: A Life of Purpose

Over a hundred people turnout out for the opening of the "Stetson Kennedy:A Life of Purpose" exhibit at the Cofrin Arts Center on the Oak Hall School campus at 8009 SW 14th Ave. on Jan. 11. From left to right: Robert Ponzio, Oak Hall Art Department Head; Gary Bone,art teacher and gallery curator; Joe Courter from the Civic Media Center, which collaborated on the exhibit; and Sandra Park, former wife and head of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the show will run through Feb. 9. A showing of "Soul of the People," which features Stetson Kennedy and the Federal Writers Project, will take place at the CMC on Monday evening, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. Photo by Michelle Koehlmoos.

Over a hundred people turnout out for the opening of the “Stetson Kennedy:A Life of Purpose” exhibit at the Cofrin Arts Center on the Oak Hall School campus at 8009 SW 14th Ave. on Jan. 11. From left to right: Robert Ponzio, Oak Hall Art Department Head; Gary Bone,art teacher and gallery curator; Joe Courter from the Civic Media Center, which collaborated on the exhibit; and Sandra Park, former wife and head of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the show will run through Feb. 9. A showing of “Soul of the People,” which features Stetson Kennedy and the Federal Writers Project, will take place at the CMC on Monday evening, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. Photo by Michelle Koehlmoos.

An exhibition on the life work of Stetson Kennedy will be presented by Oak Hall School at the Cofrin Arts Center in collaboration with the Civic Media Center. “Stetson Kennedy: A Life of Purpose” will follow the arc of Stetson’s life of accomplishment and the people that he collaborated with as he spoke truth to power. He was the author of eight books, among them “Palmetto Country,” “Klan Unmasked,” “I Rode with the Klan,” “The Jim Crow Guide,” “Southern Exposure,” and “After Appomattox: How the South Won the War.”

During his life, he collaborated with a diverse universe of people such as Zora Neale Hurston, Woody Gutherie, Simone de Bouvier, Jean Paul Sarte and Alan Lomax. Stetson Kennedy was an author, folklorist, environmentalist, labor activist and human rights activist. Stetson won numerous awards for his human rights and civil rights work, both nationally and internationally. He was active in all of these areas right up until his death at age of 92 in 2011.

“Stetson Kennedy: A Life of Purpose” will open Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Cofrin Arts Center from 7p.m. to 9p.m. The opening reception will feature Sandra Parks, Stetson’s widow, speaking about Stetson’s life and work as well music by his friend bluesman Willie Green and others. The exhibition runs through February 9 at Oak Hall School in Gainesville.

Florida’s Hidden Hand in Wrongful Convictions

by jerry n. alfred

A wrongful conviction is a conviction obtained through a violation of a person’s rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For example, a due process violation occurs where a State’s Attorney Office withholds evidence favorable to the defense. When one is uncovered a person who was wrongfully convicted will have her or his conviction overturned – assuming, of course, it is found “sufficiently” prejudicial after an evidentiary hearing where the State’s Attorney Office, paradoxically enough, will argue it was harmless – and sentence vacated. The State’s Attorney Office? Its “punishment” is to be afforded the option of either allowing the person who it had wrongfully convicted to go free or retrying her or him on the original offense.

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Grand Jury Resistance in the Pacific Northwest

By Sylvia Arnold

Back in December 1999, the city of Seattle Washington was host to the World Trade Organization meeting, and a mass protest surprised the city and captured the world’s attention.  Memories of that event were sparked earlier this year and have led to an inquest involving community members rounded up for Grand Jury questioning.

On May 1, the annual May Day event in Seattle turned violent when a group of black-clad protesters joined the demonstration, wielding rocks, tire irons and other weapons. After the demonstration, there was evidence of damage to private property and a federal courthouse. That afternoon, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn declared an emergency, and by the end of the day, multiple arrests were made for charges of assault, pedestrian interference, and vandalism.

On July 25, FBI agents and officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force raided three houses in Portland, Oreg. According to one search warrant, officials were looking for “black clothing,” “diaries/journals,” and “anti-government or anarchist literature.” As a result, Portland citizens, including Leah-Lynn Plante, Dennison Williams, Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik and Matt Duran, were subpoenaed to testify in front of a federal grand jury about their knowledge of the May Day action.

A grand jury is a panel of citizens who decide whether the evidence presented in a case determines  if someone should be charged with a crime. These individuals are not pre-screened for bias, and a judge does not oversee the proceedings. Grand jury sessions are not open to the public, but the information gathered can be used against a witness who later testifies in open (public) court. These proceedings can protect witnesses but may also coerce individuals to testify against their will.

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History and the People Who Make It: Marisol Pineda

transcript edited by pierce butler

This is the eleventh in a continuing series of transcript excerpts from the collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.
Marisol Pineda was interviewed by Paul Ortiz [O] on May 18, 2010.

I was born and raised in Santa Ana, southern California, but my whole family is from Mexico. I am first generation, first one to go to college and graduate and I graduated [from] the University of California Santa Cruz. I majored in Literature and a concentration in Spanish language.
I transferred from a community college. From high school I qualified to go straight to the university, however the educational system, especially here in Santa Ana, wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t have that confidence to go straight to the University. But the transition from the community college to Santa Cruz wasn’t so bad. Socially, the culture in Santa Cruz was different because Santa Ana College, here, was mostly Latino and out there it was rarely that I saw Latinos.
Also, the African American and Latino histories. I read Piri Thomas and Elizabeth Martinez, those are key books and writers that I still look back to [Piri Thomas- (10/30/28- ) Puerto Rican poet raised in Harlem, New York, well known for sharing his experiences and activism. Elizabeth Martinez (12/12/25- ), social activist, community organizer and author of 500 Years of Chicano History and other titles].
Something I learned that I will never forget, is that race and class go together, that you can’t speak of one without the other. Growing up in Santa Ana, my family immigrating to the United States, I would see those problems that Piri Thomas faced, like language barriers, looking for jobs, the resources that sometimes we have to seek. He would have to go with his mom and take the day off school to translate whenever she wanted to ask for benefits.

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Wild Iris Books Find New Home

by erica merrell

By now you may have heard the news that Wild Iris Books, Florida’s only feminist bookstore, is moving after 20 years on University Avenue. Here are the details we have so far.

Following a rental increase on the space, we know we have to downsize and find a way to lower our expenses so we can continue to be a part of your lives. We will remain in our current location until Dec. 22. We’re just starting to pull together the details, but expect us to celebrate every night during the week of Dec. 4. Plans will include a special Feminist Open Mic, a storytelling and sharing reception, music by Amy Andrews , a live GROW Radio show and more. Keep checking our online calendar at for more information.

As for our new home, we haven’t finished signing the contracts, but we are in a verbal agreement for a location closer to downtown. Rumor on the street is that we’ll be sharing space and energy with a cooperative grocery store and an info-shop and activist hub. Expect to see us resurface in February – refreshed, shiny and new, and ready to get back to it! Don’t forget that you can order books and local vendor products online at any time while we’re closed – so you can still support us through the transition.

Feminist bookstores are rapidly disappearing around the country, and we are now down to less than 10. We are all watching as the war on women reaches new heights, people are denied the ability to love how they choose, and our young people are constantly bombarded with garbage media and destructive social constructs. Stand with Wild Iris Books as we continue to provide support, solidarity and resources for the feminist, activist and queer community.

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Walmart Worker Solidarity Action – Black Friday

Join Occupy Gainesville and other local organizations on Black Friday, 11/23, to stand in solidarity with the workers of Walmart who are striking on the busiest shopping day of the year.

WHEN: Friday, November 23, 2012 – 5:30pm to 7:30pm
WHERE: Butler Plaza Walmart, 3570 SW Archer Road, Gainesville

Bring signs and noise markers/drums. The solidarity action is followed by a potluck dinner at the IBEW Hall, 2510 NW 6th Street, Gainesville.


To read more about the Walmart Strikes, check out Why direct action is working for Walmart’s workers.

Veterans for Peace Winter Solstice Concert – Dec. 8, 8:00 p.m.

Veterans for Peace will host its 26th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 P.M. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4225 N.W. 34th St. The event will feature music from Cherokee Peace Chant, Drums of Peace, A Choir of Heavenly Semi-Angels, John Chambers, Lauren Robinson, Kevin O’Sullivan, Quartermoon, Talking Stick and The Relics. Bill Hutchinson will be the MC for the event.

This is the sixth year Veterans for Peace, an organization advocating for the abolishment of war as an instrument of government policy, has held its Solstice Celebration at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship due to the event’s growing popularity as it typically draws a crowd of more than 400 people.

Because of fire code regulations, the new venue can only accommodate up to 400 people indoors. Because of the large crowds drawn every year, standing room will be available outside where the concert can also be heard through large speakers.

Tickets can be purchased in advance from Hyde and Zeke’s Records, 402 N.W. 10th Ave., for a suggested donation of $10 to $30. The doors open at 6:30 P.M. and the concert begins at 8:00 P.M., but people who purchase tickets in advance must arrive by 7:30 P.M. to assure a seat. Unclaimed seats will be opened up for those in line after 7:30 P.M., with no preference given to advance ticket purchasers, until all 400 seats are filled.

Outside the event, organizations and groups from the Gainesville area will set up informational booths and tables. Attendees are encouraged to bring clothing, food and personal items to be collected and distributed by Helping Hands Clinic. Refreshments will also be available.

Parking is available at the event but is limited (carpooling recommended!), and parking attendants will be present to assist drivers.

For more information about the Winter Solstice Celebration, visit our Website at

Gainesville Residents to Protest Publix during Nationwide “Thanksgiving Week of Action”

Photo courtesy of the CIW.

Members of Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice (IAIJ) will protest Publix supermarket chain at the corner of 34th Street and University Avenue from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday, November 19 (check out the Facebook event here). Residents and local religious leaders will demonstrate in an effort to convince Publix executives to sign the Fair Food Agreement, which would guarantee fair wages and working conditions for Florida tomato harvesters.

The demonstration by IAIJ members is part of a nationwide “Thanksgiving Week of Action” (November 14-21) led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) of Immokalee, Florida, which partners with Florida immigrants and farmworkers to end unfair labor conditions and wages.

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November/December 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 November/December 2012 issue here for your perusal.