Category Archives: November-December 2014

Let the Circle Be UNBROKEN

“Let the Circle Be UNBROKEN” is the theme of an event at the Downtown Library by the Porter’s Youth Center on Saturday, December 13. This will be a celebration of community coming together, which will feature Helen Warren, Annie Orlando and guest speaker Dr. Zoharah Simmons. The event is the brainchild of community activist Faye Williams, and a means to heal the rift that occurred in the past City election cycle.

The event will run from 2pm to 4:30pm, with potluck refreshments to include salads, fruits, rice and peas, beans and rice and sweet potato pie. In Annie’s words: “Running for elective office is many things. It’s an honor, a privilege and a great responsibility. As a candidate it was an amazing and sometime brutal experience.

But it is just about impossible for anyone to run for office and succeed without the help of a team of loyal volunteers and lots of supporters, who take elections seriously and put themselves on the line to help candidates get elected. The downside of political activism is that getting someone elected is a very adversarial process. In order to convince people to support us in 3 minutes or less, we have to put labels and tags on our opponents in order to define them. In the process, we forget that under all the labels we’ve stuck on each other are human beings.

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Local election results not bad

by Joe Courter

Regarding local election results, Alachua County saw a rejection of the transportation tax thanks to a drumbeat of mistrust and anti- tax sentiment, putting further behind the long put-off road work and a squeeze on other local programs.

But, on the plus side, Ken Cornell was soundly elected to the County Commission, and John Power elected as Tax Collector. Marihelen Wheeler ran well in the County, but with a gerrymandered district that is overwhelmingly Republican, she could not defeat Ted Yoho for Congress. Likewise, for Jon Uman’s loss to Keith Perry for State House. They ran strong, progressive campaigns, but the demographics and lazy mid-term turnout hurt their chances.

The non-binding straw ballot issue on corporate personhood was overwhelming favored; congrats to all who worked hard to get this on the ballot. Statewide, the Springs initiative passed. Lots of locally based work and support went into getting it on the ballot, and it’s a big win for the State. Kudos to all who made that happen. Medical Marijuana fell just short from passing Statewide, but that almost 58 percent said “Yes” shows people want it. Maybe some courage will be shown in the Legislature. Maybe…

The next issue of the Iguana in January will preview the March City of Gainesville election.

Healthcare Marketplace enters second phase

by David O’Malley, North Florida Organizer, Enroll America

Editor’s note: The Obamacare system IS helping a lot of people. It is far from what we need, but it is what we’ve got now. A single-payer system like Canada’s, and most of the world’s, would eliminate all these complexities, but we don’t have that yet. With that said here is this.

The second open enrollment period for Marketplace health insurance plans began on November 15. The Affordable Care Act enables millions of Americans to gain access to healthcare in our costly medical system.

Now, individuals have an opportunity to buy affordable, comprehensive coverage. Millions of people got covered since the Marketplace first opened on October 1, 2013. Millions more still do not know about their options for healthcare.

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Civic Media Center seeks volunteers, (tax-exempt) donations

The Civic Media Center had a very busy October with its 21st Anniversary on October 18th, an extremely well attended presentation on the 22nd, and three very busy days serving as an acoustic venue for The Fest at the end of the month. All this was overseen by the CMC’s new co-coordinators, Kenzie Cooke and Nailah Summers.

The October 22nd program featured two guest speakers. Dream Defenders co-founder and executive director Phillip Agnew came up from Miami, and Chicago-based poet, activist and educator Malcolm London came down. 130 crammed the CMC for their free-ranging talk, covering many aspects of activism in the 21st century, tools, tactics, and topics needing to be addressed in this age of militarized policing, media-induced fear-mongering, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Thanks to one of the CMC’s intrepid volunteers, the presentations were recorded and made into two 45-minute segment available on YouTube at

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Winter Solstice Peace Concert on Dec. 20

by Gainesville Veterans for Peace

This year, the 28th annual Veterans for Peace Winter Solstice Peace Concert will be on December 20 at 8 P.M. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville (4225 N.W. 34th Street, Gainesville, FL 32605-1422).

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.

The event will feature music from Cherokee Peace Chant, Drums of Peace, John Chambers and Friends, Lauren Robinson, Kevin O’Sullivan, Quartermoon, Other Voices, The Erasables, and A Choir of Heavenly Semi-Angels.

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Go Granny D! December 1 at the Civic Media Center

by Joe Courter

Usually the Civic Media Center shows a documentary film on Mondays, but this December 1 things will be a bit different. There is a two-person play entitled “Go Granny D!” It presents, in her own words and with narration, the story of Doris Haddock’s, AKA Granny D’s, 1999 walk across the U.S. from LA to DC at the ripe old age of 90 to promote campaign finance reform.

The actors performing are Barbara Bates Smith and Jeff Sebens, and they will be coming down to Florida to support another walker for campaign finance reform, 81-year-old Rhana Bazzini, AKA Rhana B, as she concludes HER walk from Sarasota to Tallahassee, which will culminate with events in Tallahassee on December 3. Details of Rhana’s walk and Granny D’s life can be found at

With Jeff providing music and narration, and Barbara Jo alternately presenting talks Granny D made as well as reading from Granny D’s journal, you follow her across the country, meeting people famous and not, with wit, insight, and concise observation. The play will be at 7pm on Monday, December 1, and donations are requested to help underwrite their travels. The CMC is at 433 S. Main St. in Downtown Gainesville. If you were one of the many who worked on or supported the nonbinding referendum on our ballot against corporate personhood, this play is for you!

History and the people who make it: Marie Jose François

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

This is the 23rd in a series of transcript excerpts from the collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Marie François was interviewed by Rebecca Minardi [M] in 2013.

F: Marie Jose Francois

M: Jose like Ho-sea?

F: Like Ho-sea.

I was born in Haiti, in 1953, Port-Au-Prince.

In 1983, after medical school—I came in the U.S. because the political area was not really the way I would like to see it. Freedom of speech—you cannot say what you want—and I look at healthcare in Haiti. It wasn’t really living up to the standard of me studying medicine. So my husband and I, we decided to come in the U.S.

M: What kind of medicine did you study?

F: General practitioner of medicine. When I came here, I did not pass the board. But, I did not let that stop me. I did a Master Degree in Public Health. And that give me another view. Medicine has two parts. Prevention and Treatment. In the U.S., the focus was on treatment, not prevention.

I received my Degree through Loma Linda, California—but I did it at Florida Hospital. My focus switched. I said, if I equip community with knowledge about what’s wrong with them, they will have a better control of their sickness.

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Ft. Lauderdale fights against homeless hate crimes

by Bailey Eva Riley

This year has been a busy one for the homeless of Southern Florida and their advocates; some of them even spending just about as much time at City Hall as the city commissioners themselves. Since the beginning of the year the city has made triumphant efforts to curb several basic human behaviors of houseless folk by deeming them illegal. As if the houseless have ever been granted any real representation or rights, now the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) of Ft. Lauderdale has outlined a plan to “establish, maintain and preserve aesthetic values and preserve and foster the development and display of attractiveness.” The DDA doesn’t seem to acknowledge the consequences of these laws, and in fact, it seems difficult for them to really comprehend how dehumanizing they are. These efforts make one think that the city of Ft. Lauderdale and the DDA have an inability to recognize the worth in anything beyond its material value.

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Reportback from Conference on Immigration to the U.S. South

by Richard Macmaster

The 5th Conference on Immigration to the U.S. South brought academics and activists to the University of Florida campus the last week in October. Planned around the theme “Immigration Reform and Beyond?” when passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill still seemed possible, conference speakers had to deal with the reality that meaningful reform of the broken system will not happen in the foreseeable future.

Keynote speakers put immigration in broad perspective. Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami spoke to the moral imperative for immigration reform and an end to deportations. Professor Mae Ngai of Columbia University addressed “illegal” immigration in American history and a remedy for the present impasse. Monica Ramirez of the Southern Poverty Law Center dealt with anti-immigrant bias and efforts to counteract it through the courts.

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From the publisher — You can’t always get what you want: 2014

by joe courter

The clichéd expression about living in interesting times has been in my head recently. These times certainly are interesting, full of highs (some) and lows (a lot) as things have been playing out.

The horribly predictable election results followed the historical trends nationally, as the 6th-year election of a two-term President is usually pretty dismal for their Party, but this one sunk lower with the rather horrid lack of fight over principles such as preserving Social Security exhibited by the Democrats. The type of folks who can afford to run for office, the consultants they hire, and the media happy with the system that enriches them leaves us with depressing choices for the most part, especially higher office. However, our little blue dot of a county ran strong though, so yay for that, and Medical Marijuana showed strong support at nearly 58 percent statewide. Let’s see if there is courage in the legislature; so many people will benefit so much. I got to see something for the first time in late October, and that was a very visible International Space Station pass overhead with the evening sun lighting it up brighter than any star, traveling from NW to SE, at a pace not that different than what an airplane appears to fly, but in actuality going about 17,500 MPH!! Couple that with the landing of a European space probe name Philae on a comet (!) named 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and you have just marveled at what humans can do. Both of these, for me, are real highs. But these same humans can also create some horrendous devices, practice barbaric acts on each other, and choose to deny or ignore science and empathy in favor of superstition, vengeance, and greed. When the space program sent craft to the moon decades ago, one of the bonuses was the pictures of our beautiful planet; browns, blues, white and greens, demarked not with artificial lines but rivers, mountains and coastlines. And now with the Cassini spacecraft, Earth can be seen as a dot of light as seen from beyond the rings of Saturn.

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Students for a Democratic Society say ‘Demilitarize UF’

by Tristan Worthington

Gainesville’s own chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is actively fighting this semester to make their 2014–2015 campaign, “Demilitarize UF,” a success. Lead organizers have worked in collaboration with other student and community groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), UF Libertarians, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), to raise awareness about the Federal 1033 Program and the increasing militarization of police forces in local communities and on college campuses. This campaign is synchronous with similar campaigns taken on by SDS chapters at FSU and USF.

The 1033 Program, also known as the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, was founded in 1997 as a means for law enforcement agencies across the country to strengthen the war on drugs. Since 1997, over five billion dollars’ worth of military equipment has been transferred to local and state police departments, including an armored personnel carrier to the University of Florida, grenade launchers to the University of Central Florida, etc.

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November/December 2014 Gainesville Iguana

nov-dec 14 coverHello Gainesville and Gainesville ExPats!

The November/December 2014 issue of the Gainesville Iguana is now available online, and it’s got lots of good stuff. You can also pick the issue up at any of our distribution spots, which you can find here.

Medea Benjamin visits Gainesville, marches with protesters

by Jacque Betz, Code Pink Gainesville

In early November, the Gainesville chapter of Code Pink organized a series of events featuring the co-founder of Code Pink, Medea Benjamin.

Code Pink is a woman-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

Also a co-founder of Global Exchange, Medea is a visible leader in the peace movement, not shy at all about raising her voice and carrying out creative protests at public event and governmental hearing (as any viewer of CSPAN can attest).

Her events included a meeting at the Women’s Studies Center at UF entitled “Empowering Women in the Peace Movement,” a discussion on “Justice for Palestine” at the Mennonite Church, taking part with local activists in a Drone Warfare Protest at Main and University Avenue, which included a march to Prioria Robotics, a local drone maker, and a talk at the Civic Media Center entitled “Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control.”

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