Category Archives: Articles

Is Gainesville development out of control? This is not what democracy looks like

by Lee Malis

A massive parking garage on 5th Avenue to serve luxury college apartments was built on Seminary Lane land, bought with HUD money intended to house low income residents. Homes had been demolished with promises of rebuilding — instead the land was sold to an Orlando developer. This neighborhood is the historical heart of the Black community of Gainesville. 
Photo by Lee Mallis.

Since 2016 there seems to be an assault on Gainesville. For those of us who remember what it was like before, it’s hard to believe this is the same town we’ve known forever. Gainesville was known as a Tree City USA for good reason. We had a beautiful city with a healthy tree canopy of mature hardwoods. There were mandates for green spaces, setbacks, parking, and density. But that’s all changing. Now if you drive down University Ave., 13th St., or NW 5th Ave., or visit Porter’s Quarters or downtown, you see massive development everywhere. This is because our city government has been changing the rules to make Gainesville developer-friendly. 

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Help make Medicare for All a reality

By Gaby Gross, Alachua County Labor Coalition, and Candy Birch, Medicare for All, Florida

Everyone living in the U.S. deserves high quality healthcare. No one should suffer poor health because they can’t afford to see a doctor or buy medication that they need. However, almost half of Floridians—including those with insurance—could not afford needed healthcare; about a third who did get necessary care struggled to pay their medical bills

The Alachua County Labor Coalition has joined Medicare for All Florida. Its goal is to remedy this dire situation by building support for the Medicare for All Act of 2021, HR1976. To do this, residents are asked to get cities and counties to pass resolutions in support of the bill and send those resolutions to Federal legislators. A proposed resolution has been submitted to the Gainesville City Commission and will be heard sometime in August. 

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A brief history of a negotiation: Graduate students vs. University of Florida

by Antonios Kyriazis, GAU member

The Graduate Assistants Union (GAU) at the University of Florida (UF) has been bargaining with the university for six months now for a higher wage. Their story has been an odyssey, with many ups and downs, and has highlighted the exploitative practices on the workforce of one of the nation’s largest universities. 

The background

Let’s start with some numbers: UF has broken in to the top 5 list of public research universities this year, it brought over $860 million in research funding in 2021, has an endowment of $2.29 billion, has been hiring new faculty members, has increased the salary of out-of-unit administrators an average 8.2 percent in the period 2018-2021 and is currently building a 263,000 square foot data science department. So, why can it not give its graduate students a living wage?

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VFP remembers Memorial Mile with information table 

Who: Gainesville Veterans for Peace
What: Info Table
Where: NW 8th Ave. & NW 31st St., Gainesville
When: Memorial Day, Monday, May 30

Since 2007, the Gainesville chapter of Veterans for Peace has mounted a major Memorial Day display of tombstones for each American troop killed as a result of the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Now that the US military has withdrawn from both nations, and  — so far as we know — has ceased attacking them with missiles and bombs as well — the chapter has called off the display.

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From the publisher … 2022 heating up in many ways

by Joe Courter

First off, a big thank you to the Supreme Court leaker, regardless of their intent, who has certainly given a jolt to the slow whittling of abortion rights, which seemed to be slipping away without much fightback. 

A big alarm clock has just gone off. 

These so-called conservative justices were lying through their teeth while under oath with those words about “settled law” regarding Roe during the confirmation hearings. We can be heartened by the big turnout on short notice at our court house and around the country less than a day after the revelations were made. Now, can we build on and sustain the outrage to organize a massive voter turnout in November, and make it more than a moment, but a movement?

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The August 23 elections … No complacency!

by Joe Courter

You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth reminding yourself of the power of your vote. There is POWER in your vote. We need that power more than ever. Not just in November, but in August. Our August elections will not only shape the field but will in many cases be the deciding factor for many of our local seats.

While the City Commission districts have not been officially finalized, we are starting to become familiar with many of the folks running and who they could represent. With the Mayor’s race and three Commission seats on the ballot, an unprecedented majority swing is possible, shaping the voice and direction of our city.

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May/June 2022 Gainesville Iguana

The May/June 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

‘Absolutely Tragic’: Doctors tie Trump’s 30-foot border wall to surge in injuries and deaths
by Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams | April 30 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1395
“We’re seeing injuries we didn’t see before: pelvic fractures, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and a lot of open fractures when the bone comes through the skin,” said a San Diego doctor.

Algeria’s war of independence (50-minute audio)
from The History Hour | BBC News | May 2 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1376
Sixty years after Algeria’s independence from France, first-hand accounts of a traumatic ‘birth of a nation’: a female Algerian bomber who was part of the battle for Algiers; how the French military responded with brutal tactics; a massacre on the streets of Paris; and reprisals against Algerians who fought alongside the French. Plus, the flowering of a national spirit through football.

ALU Staten Island: Labor movement resurgence (5:46-minute video)
by Dave Lippman | YouTube | April 25 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1381
Friend of Iguana Dave Lippman sent in this video: Amazon Labor Union (ALU), having won the election at the JFK8 Staten Island warehouse, looks to their second vote this week at the adjacent LDJ5 warehouse. Supportive unions and politicians rally at the site.

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News from the Civic Media Center

by Fi Stewart-Taylor

The Civic Media Center is excited to welcome you back to our space for a slew of great events this spring. Our regular open hours are Wednesday, 2-6pm, and Saturday, 1-5pm, when you can check out books, read zines, and browse our collection.

Volunteer led programming supports our mission of community access to education. Film screenings are every third Friday at 7:30pm; in March, we partnered with National Women’s Liberation to screen Jackson, an important documentary on the fight for abortion access. You can find information about upcoming films on Facebook or Instagram. Our book clubs meet on Wednesdays, led by volunteers. To get involved, come to a volunteer meeting, every 2nd and 4th Thursday, at 5:30pm. 

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Spotlight on Sister Cities International

The Sister Cities Program of Gainesville is a non-profit organization founded in Gainesville that strives to be a community leader by encouraging municipal officers and members of the community to engage in long-term relationships with other Sister City programs throughout the world. 

Our mission is to promote friendship, cultural exchange and shared experiences among citizens, institutions, businesses and officials of Gainesville and the world. We do this by stimulating environments for cultural understanding by sharing experiences. 

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Tom Rider, rest in power

Remember bookstores?

Gainesville had a great bookstore near the UF campus for years: Goerings.

Tom Rider was the co-owner, and he passed away on March 17, years after the store succumbed to redevelopment and online sales.

I used to manage a record store a few blocks from Goerings, and both stores were similar in that the staffs genuinely loved what they were selling, were knowledgeable, and the stores were often places where you’d run into people for great conversations.

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The best is yet to come: Works of Mr. Ernest M. Lee

Opening reception: Friday, May 13, 6-9pm
Santa Fe College Art Gallery 
3000 NW 83rd Street, M-147, Gainesville

A retrospective exhibit of the works of local folk artist Ernest Lee will be held in the Santa Fe College Art Gallery from May 16 through June 17.

Lee was a decorated and prolific artist depicting colorful scenes of rural life in North Florida, as well as the childhood memories of those he knew. A staple of the Gainesville art community, his work was featured in numerous exhibits and festivals around the region. 

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Upcoming course at Santa Fe College: The American Revolution, 1763–1815

by Gary Gordon

This is an introductory course on the American Revolution, so it must be said at the outset this course will not cover everything there is to say about the event and those years.

This is not a course about battles.

The attempt here will be to fill in some gaps to allow greater understanding of what took place between the end of “The French and Indian War,” also known as “The Seven Years War,” and the end of the War of 1812, when the United States’ victory over the British secured it as a nation with status to be reckoned with in the modern world.

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Help stop the causes of global warming

Live by basic principles of ecology: recycling, partnership, flexibility, diversity, sustainability

by Bill Gilbert

Global warming/climate change will soon overshadow all other problems that now confront us. We see increasing intensity of forest fires, floods and hurricanes; unprecedented species extinction globally; a global fresh water crisis; and, desertification of the world’s topsoil that is a major threat to our species. 

Global warming/climate change will not be stopped without ending the use of fossil fuels. 

Here are some things you can do locally to stop the causes of global warming. 

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What’s a GINI? And what is an ‘Heirs Property?’

by Harvey Ward, Gainesville City Commissioner, District II

Your City of Gainesville government has been busy working on programs likely to have a tremendous impact on folks often in need of city services. Two programs with the potential to be most helpful in our city this spring are the GINI (Gainesville Immigrant Neighbor Inclusion Initiative) and the Heirs Property program. 

The Gainesville Immigrant Neighbor Inclusion Initiative

The GINI initiative starts from the basic assumption that no matter who you are, where you came from or why you came to Gainesville, if you’re here you deserve access to the sweeping array of services our city offers whether you are a fluent user of English or not. Admittedly, that sounds easier than it is. The initiative’s beginnings are rooted in a tragic incident involving a GPD response to a domestic dispute in 2018 that resulted in federal immigration action. 

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Free UF Coalition holds rally decrying university censorship

The Free UF Coalition, made up of UF students and faculty held an academic freedom rally on March 30 on the UF campus. The March 30th Academic Freedom rally called for university personnel and students to be able to discuss, teach and conduct research on any subject without censorship by government officials. 

The University of Florida has been in the national news recently for limiting professors’ academic freedom, by barring them from testifying as expert witnesses. In January, a federal judge issued an injunction against UF, saying the university “had blatantly violated the Constitution and described the university’s legal defences as ‘shocking.’” (See WUSF’s report at tinyurl.com/Iguana1375.)

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A farewell letter to Gainesville: PONZ’s art yard sale, including live painting, music, food truck

When: Tuesday, April 16, 11am-5pm
Where: 435 S Main St, Gainesville

Dear Gainesville, 

Thank you for helping me become an artist. Since welcoming me here in 1989, you immediately made me feel at home. 

Thank you for your unique open-minded spirit, your free-thinking individuality, and your willingness to take chances (on me)! Thanks for nurturing me and inspiring my art for so many years. 

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Looking ahead … The Politics of Florida and the 2022 Midterm Elections

Webinar: Tuesday, April 19, 2pm
Registration: bit.ly/LookingAhead-RSVP

Join the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative and the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program for a dynamic panel discussion that will focus on Latino political candidates in Florida, their platforms, their electoral base, the issues taking center stage in this election cycle, and the political implications that the races in Florida will have for the rest of the country. 

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Re-energize with FCPJ on May Day

The Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice celebrates 40 years of activism 

When: Sat-Sun, April 30-May 1
Where: 10665 SW 89th Ave, Hampton

You are invited to a gathering with the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice on May Day weekend (April 30-May 1). Camp out on Saturday night to share food and fellowship. Enjoy a full day on Sunday of nature walks, peace talks, and ancient wisdom. 

We will walk through our beautiful natural space with the help of group leaders who can narrate the plants among us. 

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Organizing for change is our only weapon

by Joe Courter

Political organizing is work that challenges one’s ideals, supporting imperfect candidates and electoral outcomes that may displease, but the work needs to be done. 

Disheartening and distracting are the opposition’s main tactics, as well as the blatant voter suppression we see here in Florida. But organizing for change is our only weapon, which is why the opposition works so hard to throw roadblocks in our way. 

I had a long talk with a goodhearted friend who was so down about the rapid changes to our city done by people she had supported. She was ready to give up on the process. I share that disappointment, but no, we have to keep moving ahead. 

This is a pivotal election year locally and statewide. We will get into that in the May-June issue of the Iguana.