Category Archives: March 2016

A living wage in Alachua County

by Jeremiah Tattersall and Alachua County Labor Coalition

The Alachua County Labor Coalition has been hard at work campaigning to raise workers wages across the County.

The living wage campaign, launched in August 2015, has the ambitious goal of getting the 10 largest employers in Alachua County to pay a living wage by 2020. In the past seven months we were able to help pressure the University of Florida and the Alachua County Commission to raise their starting wage to $12 an hour. These raises directly affected over 500 workers and will put over $1.5 million back into our local economy this year.

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History and the people who make it: Judith Davis

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

This is the 33rd in a series of transcript excerpts from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection at the University of Florida.

Judith Davis [D] was interviewed by Richelle Moore [M] in 2015.

D: I was born January 15, 1953 in Gainesville, Florida. My dad worked at the physical plant at the University. Mom was a baker for the school board. I was an only child. Even though they didn’t have a lot of money, I was always supported in anything I wanted that they could afford. I had a wonderful childhood.

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Artwalk history lesson

Helping mark 30 years of publishing the Iguana, the monthly ArtWalk at the CMC will feature a display of the 35-card deck which was produced in 1988 to commemorate the 1986 Iran-Contra hearings.

These hearings helped expose a “secret government” that had been created to fund the CIA led operations in Central America devoted to topple the elected government of Nicaragua.

The Sandinista government came to power in 1979 after overthrowing the U.S. backed dictator Anastasio Somoza, whose brother and father had ruled Nicaragua for decades, and enriched themselves immensely in the process. The Sandinistas created many popular reforms and in 1984 were officially elected to power, but their Socialist leanings were not tolerable to the U.S. Government under President Ronald Reagan. 

When Congress blocked money going to the Contras (the force the CIA created that was terrorizing the countryside), the CIA turned to drug smuggling and selling weapons to Iran to generate the funds to carry out their illegal war.

These operations came to light, and Congress convened hearings that further exposed the illegal and deadly operations.

These cards are 35 history lessons of a corrupt administration’s bloody efforts The blowback from these interventionist policies in Central America still impact the region. It was out of that ferment that the Gainesville Iguana began.

The March Artwalk at the CMC  (and all over downtown) is Friday March 25, and will run from 7-10 pm.

For more information, see D

Mayor’s Community Response Council Committee Recommendations

In early February 2015 a committee was formed to look at Gainesville Police policies and practices. This was on the heels of the increased concern over police misconduct which came to light in Ferguson, MO. After a year of meeting monthly, the Committee presented its report to the City Commission.  Its recommendations were as follows; how seriously they are taken remains to be seen:


To support the work of the Mayor’s Community Response Council, the Committee was formed and open to all MCRA representatives to attend. Meeting monthly since the inception of the MCRC, with an average attendance of 4 – 8 members present, the Committee discussed current policies and practices, listened to presentations to gather information, requested and received supporting information from GPD Leadership and reviewed 3 key reports: President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Department of Justice, and Campaign Zero Report.

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Recording artist Pierce Pettis to perform at CMC April 9

Pierce Pettis will be in concert at the Civic Media Center April 9 at 8pm. Pierce, adored by both critics and public alike, is one of this generation’s most masterful songwriters. His music is distinguished by his uncanny ability to capture universals in human experience by drawing on the humor and trials in daily life. Pettis’ music can simultaneously pull on our hearts and keep us laughing. In live performance his mastery of the craft is moderated with an endearing ADD infused spontaneity.

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Florida State Parks in peril

Jim A Stevenson gave a rousing speech at the Save Paynes Prairie and our State Parks event on Jan. 23. He is a 50-year veteran of working with the multi award winning Florida State Parks system, which provides not only habitat for wildlife, but also a connection to Florida history. As a public commons that have provided respite and adventure to over 30 million people, they are over 80 percent self-supporting, with the 20 million Florida taxpayers only having to kick in about a dollar each.

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Medicare CUTS in FY 2017 budget Pay attention to YOUR earned benefits and tell YOUR elected officials: “No cuts to Medicare!”

by Carol Thomas

The president’s fiscal year 2017 budget has more bad news than good news for senior citizens. While Social Security beneficiaries will see no changes in the way Social Security benefits are determined, proposals for Medicare are downright bad news.

What’s proposed are higher deductibles, means-testing and more cost-shifting to seniors and their families.

Medicare is the good and moral healthcare program for seniors that was designed to keep retirees and their families free from the added burden of healthcare costs as family members deal with the obligation of caring for their aging relatives. President Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965 and former President Harry Truman was the first to receive a Medicare card.

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UF Graduate Student Labor Union pushes for fee relief for graduate assistants

By: Kevin Funk, Co-President, Graduate Assistants United (GAU)

Every semester, the University of Florida’s 4,000 graduate, teaching, and research assistants are responsible for paying exorbitant university fees. This spring 2015 semester, most of us will pay around $700 back to our employer. For many, this is more than the amount of their biweekly paycheck.

That the university would charge its graduate assistants such a significant amount in fees — hundreds of dollars higher per semester on average than its peer institutions — is especially ironic given the recent campaign, which Graduate Assistants United (GAU) supports, to turn the University of Florida into a Top 10 public research institution.

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Faculty salary impasse over, UF finds in favor of UF!

By Susan Hegeman
UF Chapter President, United Faculty of Florida (FEA/AFT/NEA)

On January 28, the impasse over faculty salaries between UF and the faculty union ended with a Kafkaesque flourish, with UF’s own Board of Trustees deciding in favor of UF against the union.

At the end of a hearing attended by about eighty faculty, students, and other UF constituents, Trustee Steven Scott gave a short statement, in which he lectured the faculty on fiscal responsibility. UF sits on the largest reserve of funds, both in dollars and in percent of operating budget, of any university within the Florida state university system. Yet Scott told the faculty that it wasn’t prudent to give them the raise the union had proposed. Instead, he said, UF’s millions in accumulated funds were for things like replacing the “shrubbery” after a hurricane.

With very little deliberation, the Board voted for what is effectively a 1.25 percent faculty raise for 2015-16.

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Stand up to Plum Creek/Weyerhaeuser

By Scott Camil

The Alachua County Comprehensive plan is as close as we can get to a political consensus and compromise in our community. The product of many years of citizen advisory committee deliberations, workshops, public hearings, and legal challenges, then formally adopted and continually revised by an elected county commission, it provides a carefully considered blueprint for future growth in the unincorporated areas of our county. It balances the public interest with the rights of property owners by directing growth to appropriate areas and protecting public health, neighborhoods, farms, wetlands, and significant natural areas.

In 2011, Plum Creek created the Envision Alachua Task Force and began working on a plan to develop its lands in eastern Alachua County. This would require massive changes to the county’s comprehensive plan, sparking significant opposition by environmentalists and rural citizens. The Envision Alachua plan is now before the County Commission.

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The Family Garden in Gainesville

Community Supported Agriculture is a growing trend across the country, and we are well represented in our area with local farms that can be contacted at the various Farmer’s Markets in our area. The Family Garden is one example of a new generation of small farms and farm families giving people healthy, locally grown food alternatives. (Citizen Co-op at 435 S. Main St. is also a buyer of locally grown veggies and other products and needs community support as well. They are open every day except Tuesday from 10 am to 8 pm.)

NOTE: The Downtown Farmer’s Market is now (thankfully) back at the Bo Diddley Plaza on Wednesdays from 4-7pm

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From the publisher: Not a ‘reality show’ – This is real

by joe courter

As most of you have gathered, I am a political junkie.  It was the Presidential campaign of 1968 that first caught my attention,  specifically the Democratic party debate I watched after Robert Kennedy joined the race.  I was 17, had already started to question things I was seeing in the world.  The news of his assassination devastated me a few weeks later, in him I thought there was hope. And going forward, it’s been a cycle of hopes and horrors.  Nixon over Humphrey, and then trouncing McGovern. Yikes. Carter in with hope, then Reagan twice followed by elder Bush … a dozen years of bad news, some obvious then; others revealed as decades have passed.  Hope with Bill Clinton, but major disappointments and flat out bizarre-ness in that term, followed by the installation of George W. Bush and the shit-storm that followed.  Then, yes, I bought into the hopes again with Obama, but again disappointment and disgust at a ideologically paralyzed government and a President who did little but compromise with the right and  conspire with the corporations.

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Letter to the City of Gainesville: Vote Lauren Poe

Hello everyone,

I am writing to ask you to vote for Democratic challenger Lauren Poe for Mayor of Gainesville.  Even if you are not a Gainesville resident, you are likely affected by the decisions made by the Gainesville City Commission.

Lauren is a man of integrity whose character we can trust. His vision for our city is one of inclusion and smart growth. His previous tenure on the City Commission was conspicuous for its fairness, its embrace of the innovation economy, and its progressive agenda.

On the other hand, his opponent, Tea Party-backed Republican Ed Braddy, likes to pretend that he invented all the above since he was elected three years ago.  It all started much earlier.

Braddy’s scandal-ridden term as mayor has been an embarrassment to all decent citizens.

Does anyone believe it is ethical to accept money for restaurants, strip clubs, and hotel bills? All public officials are bound by law to undergo annual ethics training.  Where was Ed Braddy?  Perhaps he thinks ethical standards don’t apply to him.

In a recent forum, Mayor Braddy boasted that he has restored civility to the City Commission. Not true in my case.

When I appeared as a citizen before the commission in December, I was attacked by two commissioners whose vitriol and sarcasm was allowed by the Mayor to continue unabated until I walked out. You see, they did not like hearing the truth about an injustice the Mayor allowed to take place. The Mayor is a bully and tolerates bullies.

Please vote! When good people don’t show up at the polls, bad things happen. Bad things are happening in Tallahassee due to voter apathy. Clean water, health care, and public schools are all  in jeopardy.

Gainesville is a beautiful and precious place. Don’t let bad things happen here. Vote Lauren Poe for Mayor! Pass it on!


Eileen Roy,

Gainesville resident and Alachua County School Board Member D

Gainesville elections on March 15

By Joe Courter

Please exercise your right to vote March 15 (or sooner with early voting). Outside the City of Gainesville you just have the Presidential Primary for those registered D or R. We say Bern Baby Bern! Let’s make Alachua County the higher percentage for Bernie in the state!

Within the City everyone (D, R or other) has the chance to knock out Ed Braddy from the Mayor’s seat by voting for Lauren Poe. Lauren is a solid forward thinking person and we agree with the letter which follows from Eileen Roy; Braddy has a record of ethical problems and questionable judgment. Go Poe! In the District 4 race we very strongly support the election of Adrian Hayes-Santos, a life long Gainesvillian with a strong progressive vision.

March 2016 Gainesville Iguana

March 16 Iguana coverThe March 2016 issue of the Iguana is now available! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.