Category Archives: March 2024

IBEW Report: Tallahassee’s Legislative session—not all bad news

By James Ingle, President IBEW local 1205.

Every year Gainesville’s electrician’s union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 1205, sends a delegation of members to Tallahassee to learn about how our state government functions and to fight on behalf of the working families of Florida, encouraging pro-worker legislation and, more often, trying to stop antiworker legislation. 

We are part of a larger effort with the Florida AFL-CIO. This year was a mixed bag. With a legislature as reactionary as Florida’s, Labor is usually playing defense, and this year was no different. But, working in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the state, we did have some successes.

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History and the people who make it: Eric Sheppard

This month, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program is featuring one of the interviews from the new Underground Railroad Oral History Project collection. 

This July, 2023 interview was conducted with Mr. Eric Sheppard (S), founder and CEO of Mubita LLC and descendant of Underground Railroad freedom seeker, Moses Grandy. 

This excerpt was edited by Donovan Carter (C). For the full interview, go to our YouTube page, SPOHP111, or go to:

C: Today is July 20th, 2023. We are here in the North Carolina State Park at the Great Dismal Swamp. My name is Donovan Carter with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida, and I’m joined by: 

S: I’m Eric Sheppard.

C: Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Sheppard. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and where you’re from? 

S: I was born and raised in Baltimore City and about twenty-some-odd years ago, I decided to start tracing my family tree. 

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Veterans for Peace announces 10th annual College Scholarship for Alachua County students

Deadline for submitting application: Friday, April 15

Gainesville Veterans for Peace Chapter 14 is excited to announce our 10th annual Peace Scholarship Program for the spring of 2024. We will be awarding three $1,500 each for high school seniors, college students or adults. Recipients must demonstrate commitment to one or more social justice activities which may include: peace and nonviolence, intersectional coalition building, Black Lives Matter, women’s reproductive freedom, environmental sustainability, economic justice, education, and social change.

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Update on GRU takeover

by Jason Fults

Over the past several months, Iguana readers have been kept apprised of the slow-motion trainwreck that is the new “GRU Authority.” This Authority has been forced on us after a decade of public resistance by legislation, HB 1645, brought to us by Representative Chuck Clemons and Senator Keith Perry, and followed by Governor DeSantis’s initial appointments to the Board. This bill has split our city government into two parts: General Government, run by our elected officials; and GRU, a city department/utility in charge of our energy and water supply, now controlled by a state-appointed Board, with no checks and balances or accountability. Now that their first few months of meetings are behind us, and some concrete themes are beginning to emerge, here are some of their most notable decisions, actions, and attitudes to date:

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Tell Congress ‘No’ to a secretive ‘Fiscal Commission’

by Tia Maria

A so-called “fiscal commission” proposed by House Republicans should alarm senior citizens and others who depend on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

At press time, HR 5779 (the Fiscal Commission Act) and the companion bill in the Senate, S. 3262 (the Fiscal Stability Act), would target worthy programs for cuts. 

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UF plans to raze nearly 200 trees for unneeded parking lot

by Savanna Green, The UF Understory Protectors

In December, after receiving dozens of comments in opposition, the UF Lakes, Vegetation, and Landscaping Committee (LVLC) postponed a vote on approval of a disastrous plan to cut down 182 large trees. 

The  trees, just west of campus (north of Hull Road, west of SW 34 St.) would be eliminated to expand a parking lot for the UF Health Ortho Building by a few dozen spaces — part of a bigger plan to expand the building into its existing parking lot. 

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From the publisher… We can do better

by Joe Courter

Here we are in another election year, with various states hosting primaries for President (with Biden unopposed here in Florida), but up ahead is very meaningful primary voting on August 20 for the candidates for the state and local races we will see on the Nov. 5 ballot along with the Senate and Presidential candidates.

“Election stuff … too soon!” you might say, but no, it is important how we think about this flawed but very real process we have in this country. Iguana co-founder and now Labor Notes editor Jenny Brown raised the notion of “defensive voting” to me, and it resonated. You may not be getting what you want, candidate or policy wise, but you are at least salvaging better chances for what you want in the future. It’s a more constructive view than “lesser of two evils.”

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Civic Media Center update

Here in the CMC’s 30th year, there are perhaps more volunteers who are part of the activities than ever, much of it direct action that helps people with food, basic necessities, and material support, along with the library, the music shows, poetry jam and varied events put on by the CMC or other organizations.  

The CMC is a life changer for many people, which is something that hasn’t changed. It inspires, educates, and makes personal connections that last for years. 

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Let rage, hope co-exist to fuel your organizing

by Diana Moreno

It felt insane to have gone through a holiday season where we’re surrounded by messages of “Peace on Earth” and told to have a “Happy New Year” while a genocide takes place in Palestine. It feels insane to go through the motion of life under capitalism while a genocide rages, while families starve, are displaced, and buried under rubble. So how do we keep going without despair setting in? 

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Urgent call for ceasefire in Gaza by Alachua County  healthcare workers  

Since Jan. 22, health care workers in Alachua County have been circulating a letter to the Alachua County Commissioners, urging them to pass a county ceasefire resolution. 

So far 100 local health care workers (including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, anesthesiologists, midwives, and many others) have signed the letter. Out of this action, the Alachua County Health Care Workers for Gaza is forming a new community group. Follow them on instagram @alachuahealthcare4gaza or reach out by email at: 

The letter is printed below and can also be accessed at Please sign on!

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On Palestine

by Maya Velesko

I’ve been thinking of my parents a lot recently, and telling friends that they are surely both “turning in their graves” over the current scenes on the world stage. 

My father was a Ukrainian émigré, escaping the Russians with his family during WW2. He would be dismayed over the recent loss of land and life in Ukraine. As a forty-year veteran of the United States Foreign Service, he would have much to say about what is occurring behind the closed doors of global boardrooms and government offices as well as the blatant selective employment of international law and humane compassion by our institutions and mainstream media. 

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March 2024 Gainesville Iguana

The March 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.

Editors’ picks: News that didn’t fit

AAUP votes to sanction New College of Florida 
The American Association of University Professors’ governing Council voted unanimously to add New College of Florida to their list of institutions sanctioned for substantial noncompliance with widely accepted standards of academic government. They said that the college’s board of trustees and administration thoroughly restructured the college’s academic offerings without meaningful faculty involvement and denied academic due process to multiple faculty members.
from |

Alachua County’s journey to truth and reconciliation
Over the past six years, Alachua County and hundreds of community members have embarked on a Truth and Reconciliation project in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. The project shines a light on the dark side of our county’s history and looks for healing. The result of that work led to the creation of a unique county-wide effort unlike anywhere else in Florida – and arguably the nation – at a time when talking about race relations and slavery has been considered controversial by some.
by Andrew Caplan |

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