Category Archives: Articles

Affordable care (ObamaCare) at risk

by Diane Dimperio

Insurance companies are not established to help people. Most are for-profit businesses with stockholders expecting a return on investment which creates pressure to spend less than they earn. Insurance is a risky business and successful companies have learned how to manage their operation to meet statutory requirements while generating a profit. 

The majority of people with health insurance are enrolled through an employer, which offers several advantages. Employers have  competent professionals negotiating comprehensive plans, the employer pays a large portion of the premium and negotiates out-of-pocket costs for employees. The larger the number of employees the more favorable terms the employer is able to negotiate. 

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United Faculty of Florida opposes spring in-person classes

by Ashley Nguyen

On Oct. 30, the University of Florida announced that in-person classes for Spring 2021 will return to pre-pandemic levels of registration. This announcement has brought forth trepidation, especially from members of the UF faculty, student body, and Gainesville community.

Not only do in-person classes endanger members of the community who belong to high-risk categories (as delineated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), this reckless policy will inevitably lead to dire consequences to workers, staff, and community members who make the everyday processes of the University function smoothly. 

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From the publisher: We’re moving on…

by Joe Courter

Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting here in limbo” comes to my mind. We had the election we’d been waiting for. Four years of the not normal, the not even imaginable, taking place every day. 

Looking back, it is like the progress we’d made as a society was being taken away; the hard-fought-for rights, the long-struggled-for environmental regulations, even the trust we had in governmental functioning in the public interest seemed to – was – being taken away by an occupying force. Was there anger, even hate, for the perpetrators of these actions? 

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Civic Media Center update

by JoJo Sacks

As we swing into November and December, we want to express gratitude for the amazing organizers in town that have been keeping up the good fight! We are in increasingly unprecedented times, and they have been holding it down.

At the CMC, we have been busy with online programming and fundraising. In October, we celebrated our 27th anniversary with a great panel discussion about mutual aid, its origins, and the ways in which local folks have been redistributing resources to those in need. The CMC Virtual Book Club read Dr. Paul Ortiz’s book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States. Recently, we hosted a “Know Your Rights” training for activists with the National Lawyers Guild. In addition, we continue to be the staging area for the twice a week free food distribution by the Free Grocery Store, which takes food right to the doorsteps of people in need.

We are looking forward to more online events soon, helping us raise money to keep the CMC alive. We will host a CMC volunteer meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 5:30pm on Zoom – come plug in if you are interested in helping support the CMC as we remain closed during the pandemic. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for updates. 

You can donate to the 501(c)3 non profit CMC on Paypal at, or mail a check to 433 S. Main Street. Email with any questions!

Local elections offer hope and heartache

by James Thompson

With heavy focus on Trump’s defeat and control of the Senate in the balance as of this writing, let’s not forget that all politics are local. And local politics can be just as joyous and gut-wrenching as anything the nation has to offer. 

Hope for a better Alachua County and Gainesville metro area springs higher from the successful passing of all eleven progressive local ballot items by public referendum. And we have excellent new County Commissioners in Anna Prizzia and Mary Alford. The bad news is Dr. Kayser Enneking bravely, but unsuccessfully ran against the incumbent Republican Chuck Clemons for Florida House District 21.

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November/December 2020 Gainesville Iguana

The November/December 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.

Obituary – Dr. Harold Martin Stahmer, Jr.

Dr. Harold Martin Stahmer, Jr., UF Professor Emeritus, passed away Friday, October 23, 2020, at home, surrounded by his family. Harold was known as Hal to his friends, Dad to his three daughters and Grandfather to his six grandsons. He was born in Brooklyn, NY on August 7, 1929, the son of Harold Martin Stahmer, Sr., and Anne Truntz Stahmer.  He grew up sneaking into Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers, drawing and painting even as a gifted young child and later taking courses at the Pratt Institute for the Arts, and developing a love of chocolate ice cream while working at his Uncle Henry’s soda and candy shop in Flatbush. 

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Short hand voter guide

President, Representatives, Commissioners: Vote Democrat 

Judges: Yes to Lewis and Makar; No to others 

State Amendments: Yes on #2; No on #1, 3, 4; Leaning No on #5, 6 

County Referenda: All Yes 

Gainesville Referenda: All Yes 

October is Civic Media Center’s anniversary month

by JoJo Sacks, CMC Coordinator

As we move into fall and remain at home during the pandemic, the Civic Media Center, though closed for events, has been putting together online programming to keep our community engaged. 

In September, volunteers organized our first virtual CMC book club, reading adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. Organizers held a discussion about the need to stand for Black communities and against the gentrification of the historic Seminary Lane neighborhood. (See related story on page 9.)

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October events include farmers markets, art show

Every Thursday: A Downtown Market is being hosted by Heartwood Soundstage at 619 S. Main St. on Thursdays from 4-7pm with music and vendors. Masking  and distancing is required. The first one was Oct. 1 and had a good turn-out with a similar vibe to the Wednesday Bo Diddley Market, which was suspended due to Covid. Not a lot of farmers at the first one, but it may grow. Other markets continue at Cypress & Grove on Mondays from 4-7pm, at Celebration Point on Wednesdays from 4-7 and Haile Plantation on Saturdays from 8:30am til noon.

Saturday, Oct. 17, in conjunction with the Women’s March in DC, a local Women’s March event will be held at Bo Diddley Plaza from 10 am until noon.

Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3pm, to mark the Civic Media Center’s 27th anniversary, Solidarity not Charity is a Zoom event on Mutual Aid, citing examples from history with the Black Panthers and others to current efforts in Gainesville. More information is listed in the article below.

Friday, Oct. 23, South Main Art Hub at 435 S.Main St. will host Spacial Inclinations, an indoor/outdoor socially distanced mask-requiring art show.  Parking and entry from SE 5th Ave.

Saturday, Oct. 24 features the UN association Zoom event (see page 14), and an actual outdoors out-of-town event at Rodman Dam on the Ocklawaha River (see page 10).

And of course this year no FEST, no theater, minimal live music, but Zoom meetings, blocked off city streets,  parks and nature remain … hang in there, we’ll get through this.

History and the people who make it: Gainesville Women for Equal Rights – Part 3

Jane Hiers [H], Jean Chalmers [C], Cora Roberson [R], Vivian Filer [F], and David Chalmers [DC] speak in April 2009 with interviewer Steve Davis about their time working with Gainesville Women for Equal Rights (GWER), one of the first integrated organizations in Gainesville. 

This is the 62nd in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection; other parts of this excerpt appeared in the July-August and September Iguanas.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

C: Remember when we investigated the Department of Welfare? 

First, we found out that one of the county commissioners’ parents were on welfare. So we thought, “Well, we’d really like to look at the rolls and see who’s on welfare.” And we never could. I won’t mention her name, but every time we went, there was some reason we couldn’t see the rolls. 

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The United Nations on Its 75th Anniversary: Alachua County, City of Gainesville proclaim Oct. 24 United Nations Day

by Jacob U. Gordon, Ph.D., Chair, UN Day 2020 Working Group, UNA*USA Gainesville

The United Nations was founded on Oct. 24, 1945 in San Francisco. Its purpose was to promote international cooperation after the devastating World Wars I and II.  

The Gainesville Chapter, United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA*USA) will commemorate the UN’s 75th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9am to 1pm. This  program will take place as a virtual conference via Zoom, due to the coronavirus. This will allow us to have an international audience. 

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Adam Christensen’s vision for the future

by Hannah Jacobs

The Adam Christensen for Congress Campaign to fill the vacant seat in Florida’s 3rd district has become a powerful force in the progressive movement growing among all demographics. 

The campaign has been endorsed by prominent figures across the spectrum, including former presidential candidates Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang, as well as organizations No Dem Left Behind, Florida College Democrats, Humanity Forward, and the local chapter of Our Revolution. The support from social media followers and constituents in the district is proof of the traction Adam Christensen’s political philosophies have earned him. 

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October 12 is now Indigenous People’s Day

Be happy to know that Gainesville permanently dumped Columbus Day (a federal holiday since 1937) in 2018. We are the only city in Florida to have made the change.  No celebrations will occur this year due to Covid, but there very likely will be a proclamation at the Oct. 12 City Commission meeting and an acknowledgement on the City’s Facebook page. This all came about from the grassroots spearheaded by Sylvia Paluzzi, of Morning  Meadow Pre-School and Kindergarten working with the City Commission. Current Mayor Lauren Poe is supportive of bringing attention to the Native people who preceded us on this land, and has promised that in 2021, if we’re out of the pandemic woods by then, a series of City supported events will be held to mark this overlooked history.

Free the Ocklawaha: World Fish Migration Day Oct. 24

by Jennifer Carr, President, Florida Defenders of the Environment

According to NOAA Fisheries, it is estimated that more than 2 million dams in the U.S., and even more culverts and other barriers, block fish from migrating upstream. This has contributed to the decline of many fish populations. 

It was recently mentioned in the Florida Specifier that the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership has an online prioritization tool for dam removal. The Rodman/Kirkpatrick ranks as one of the three highest priority dams for removal out of over 2,500 aquatic barriers in Florida, based on the amount of habitat to be gained and the condition of the watershed. 

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Save Seminary Lane: Once a vibrant, diverse community

by Neighbors Standing with Seminary Lane 

Once upon a time there was a beautiful neighborhood in the center of Gainesville. It was called Seminary Lane. 

It had a school (currently named A. Quinn Jones Education Center, soon to be renamed), barber and beauty shops, nurseries for children, mom and pop places to eat, locally owned funeral homes and a place where music played and people danced.

People thrived in their community. African-American people. They had homes they could afford in a place they loved. Having been pushed there during the Jim Crow area, they built a vibrant, diverse, historically African-American community which is now prey for developers seeking to build luxury student rental housing.

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City of Gainesville considering moratorium on development in historically Black neighborhoods

by Deidre Houchen, Member, Moratorium Committee

The City of Gainesville Commission is considering a moratorium on major development in historic and historically Black neighborhoods. On Oct. 15, they will meet again in what we expect will be another long discussion on the merits of this proposal. We urge the Commission to vote for a moratorium. We urge you to contact your commission to support this proposal. 

On Aug. 31, the City Commission voted to direct the City Attorney and the City Manager to come back to the Commission with the first draft of an ordinance to enact a moratorium for a period of time to be determined by the city attorney and city manager effective immediately, for major residential and non-residential development with a map of boundaries encompassing Fifth Ave, Pleasant Street, Springhill, Duckpond, Duval, Sugarhill, Porters, North Lincoln Heights, Oakview and Northeast Neighbors, not including Downtown.

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Science bus coming to town

by Nkwanda Jah

This fall, the Cultural Arts Coalition will introduce our Science Bus, an interactive Science experience for students throughout Alachua County. 

The exhibits aboard the bus are similar to those pioneered by Brian Jones of University of Colorado, Ft. Collins and his “Little Shop of Physics.” 

These exhibits have two main features: They capture and frame otherwise unusual physical phenomenon, and they will use inexpensive and readily available materials to construct demonstrations. 

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Comments on Coronavirus …

by Joe Courter

So Trump and others in the administration tested positive. October Surprise #1. How this plays out regarding campaigning, debates and the election remains to be seen. I can’t help but wonder if we are being played. You, who are reading this now, know more than I do writing this on Oct. 2.

The University reopening has predictably led to many scenes of unmasked students clustered together at bars and on the sidewalks. We people who live in town and have been doing a good job of masking and distancing are rightly appalled. And not just for ourselves, but for the service workers, store workers, and university employees who may become infected due to the University’s decisions. Yes, they are covering their asses with strict rules on campus, but we in the community are suffering the consequences of the off-campus behavior.

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From the publisher: Get out the vote

by Joe Courter

I watched the first Presidential debate to get some clarity on writing this Publisher’s Note for the last Iguana before the Nov. 3 election. I had fortified myself by reading Carl Hiaasen’s great new book Squeeze Me one of his best and a brutally funny take down of Trump, his devotees, and wealthy South Florida elites. And pythons.  I finished the book at 7:30pm Tuesday night and at 9pm I was ready with glass and bottle of $3.99 wine.  It was something …

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