In Memoriam: Herschel Hugh Elliot

by Dwight Bradley

Dr. Herschel Hugh Elliott passed away at his Gainesville homestead on Feb. 16. He came into the world a century ago, on Feb. 6, 1920, in Connecticut farmhouse. How he arrived turned out to be a predictor of how he lived: the old fashioned way, at home, during a blizzard, without doctor or midwife. Hertha Bogenhagen, his mother, came from a family of German immigrants who homesteaded in Nebraska. Richard Travis Elliott, his father, grew up under rough circumstances on the frontier in South Dakota. But this was an era of great mobility. By the time Herschel came along, his parents were living in a parsonage in Connecticut. Spolier alert: Herschel ended up an atheist.

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Music scene apocalypse tunes Gainesville

by Jacob Adams

Gainesville’s music scene has changed immeasurably since the outbreak of COVID-19 led to local guidance, and eventually mandates, that shut down the bars, restaurants and venues where a large portion of shows take place. Even DIY house venues have stopped hosting shows out of an abundance of caution. 

Service industry jobs have evaporated as well, causing many of those who work in the service and entertainment sectors to lose their primary sources of income; the overlap among musicians and service workers is notable. 

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Coronavirus pandemic resources, guidelines

by James Thompson

In response to the COVID-19 or “Coronavirus” pandemic, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners has issued Emergency Order 2020-09 to “Stay at Home and Close all Non-Essential Businesses.” The orders include the towns and cities of Gainesville, Monteocha/LaCrosse, Hawthorne, Alachua, Archer, Waldo, Micanopy, High Springs, and Newberry, as well as the rural and unincorporated parts of the County. Grocery stores, gas stations, banks, auto and bicycle repair, hardware, medical facilities, and other essential services remain open, but with proximity protocols in place.

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From the publisher … Publishing in the time of COVID-19

by Joe Courter

Setting about this task right now is surreal. We are all so off from our life rhythms. The town is so shut down, so a limited press run is in order. You subscribers, and those of you who have picked the Iguana up from wherever, I hope you are staying safe and unscathed from this outbreak of our tiny viral adversaries, facilitated by our fellow humans who assist them into our bodies either inadvertently or with careless disregard.

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ELECTIONS past and future

by Joe Courter

The recent city commission elections in the city came out as hoped with Arreola and Ward retaining seats and Saco joining the commission. As far as the presidential primary, Bernie lost to Biden, but he came in second with over 40 percent, and that was the highest percentage vote for Sanders in any county in the Florida. So it goes …

Looking ahead, the primaries for the November election are contested in August. They will be party-based closed primaries for most offices, and wide open primaries for nonpartisan offices such as school board and judges. It is really important to get the best candidates in to challenge the Repubs in the fall, and worthy of working to register people to vote, as well. 

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Community love in the time of COVID

by Anna Prizzia

The recent COVID 19 crisis has high­lighted that we have been relying on the most vulnerable – the nurse, the food service worker, the factory worker, the janitor, the teacher, the activist, the undocumented, the social worker, the farmer – to keep our economy moving. 

Even though these workers are showing that they are vital to our daily lives, they have often benefited the least, fighting for basic benefits and living wages. 

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April 2020 Gainesville Iguana

The April 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.

SAVE THE DATE — CMC SpringBoard, April 4

Saturday, April 4, will be the Civic Media Center’s annual SpringBoard event.

Guest speaker: Dr. Zoharah Simmons

Topic: The Radical Martin Luther King

As an organizer with SNCC in Mississippi in the mid 1960s, Dr. Simmons saw, first hand, the evolution of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as world events and his interactions with others in the Civic Rights Movement changed and expanded his political thinking and actions. 

Location: Forage Hall at Working Food,  219 NW 10th Ave.

Socializing and dinner: 6-9pm

Donation requested (it’s a fundraiser, folks): sliding scale of $25-$50 (but no one turned away for less)

Advance tickets at CMC (cash or check) or Third House Books (cash only). You may also obtain tickets through Eventbrite at:

Or by mail … and if you can’t come, donations are obviously welcome anyway at the Civic Media Center, 433 S. Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601

WGOT springs into seasonal fundraising, volunteer search

By Fred Sowder, WGOT Sponsorship Coordinator

As winter turns to spring, WGOT continues to strive to be your source for alternative music and talk programming from Gainesville and around the nation. From producing and airing local music to national news coverage from Democracy Now! and everything in between, WGOT has monthly expenses that can only be funded with your help. For this to continue, we need your help on any and all fronts.

Do you own or know of a small business that can be helped by getting its message out on WGOT? If so, please contact us at Consider joining the ranks of fine local businesses such as Daily Green, Buckhalter Heating & Air, and Thompson Painting by becoming a WGOT underwriting sponsor. Our listeners can also be a huge financial help to us by contributing to our nearly-funded GoFundMe campaign or by becoming a sustaining member via Patreon. We also plan on participating in The Amazing Give this year on April 22 and 23, so please consider saving room for community media when it comes to your annual giving during this important event.

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History and the people who make it: Byllye Avery – Part 1

Byllye Avery [BA], feminist health activist, and her son Wesley [WA] were interviewed by Deidre Houchen [H] in May, 2012.

This is the 57th in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

BA: I was born in Waynesville, Georgia. I was born at home. My cousin, Ella, was the midwife.

H: What year were you born?

BA: 1937. October 20, 1937. I grew up in DeLand, Florida. I went to Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. That’s where I met the children’s father. I have two children: Wesley and Sonya. Met him the first day I was there. And I didn’t date him for that whole year, he was always bothering me, and I gave him a hard time. Someone told me not too long ago that’s always a sign, you know? So he and I dated and got married and lived in Jacksonville for about ten years, which we hated living there every single day.

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Local groups advocate for better police policies to protect immigrant victims, witnesses of crime

by Veronica Robleto

For almost two years, members of the North Central Florida Social Service/Hispanic Alliance (NCFSS/HA), specifically members of the Human Rights Coalition of Alachua County (HRCAC), Florida Legal Services (FLS) and the Rural Women’s Health Project (RWHP), have attempted to address the repercussions of an incident that occurred Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, impacting the immigrant community. 

That night, the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) blundered in its response to a domestic violence case. A call was received from a non-English speaker, explaining her fear of abuse at the hands of her companion. Appropriate translation was not obtained by GPD, which led to a misinterpretation of the level of danger the abuser posed. 

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Veterans for Peace announces college scholarships

Gainesville Veterans for Peace Chapter 14 announces its sixth annual Peace Scholarship Program for the spring of 2020. We are awarding three college scholarships of $750 each for Alachua County high school seniors, college students or adults with a commitment to activities including: social justice and peace, equal justice, conflict resolution and/or nonviolent social change.

Veterans for Peace created these scholarships to give financial support to students in Alachua County, Florida who are planning careers in pursuit of a world of social justice and equity. 

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Rallying for UF workers

By Shruthi Reddy
student, YDSA GNV member

On February 21, the Young Democratic Socialists in Gainesville led a rally and demonstration to advocate for the payment of a living wage for all workers and contracted employees at the University of Florida. 

The university has chosen to not pay its workers decent wages, endangering these workers’ financial security. The worker groups receiving low wages include Other Personnel Services (OPS) workers and contracted employees such as Aramark food service workers. 

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Supporting ICE detainees in the Baker County Jail

by Gregory Mullaley

For the past 10 months I’ve had the privilege of being associated with a group of people who’ve been visiting the ICE detainees in the Baker County Jail located an hour north of Gainesville. ICE, part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has contracted with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office to hold people they’ve taken into custody, often for the simple crime of being in the United States without legal status.

Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Mondays, this group travels to Baker on their own time to visit with men and women who are locked away 24 hours a day. These detainees are never allowed to go outside, and the only sunshine they see is from a single large window located in the recreational room some 12 feet above the floor. These men and women are desperate to see anyone from outside the jail as they are not allowed an attorney, unless they or someone else pays for one. And since the jail is located in a remote area, it’s difficult for their families to travel several hours just for a short visit, so we are a welcome sight.

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How ranked choice voting works

Broadly speaking, the ranked choice voting process (sometimes referred to as instant runoff voting) is applicable in races with three or more candidates. It unfolds as follows:

  1. Voters rank the candidates for a given office by preference on their ballots.
  2. If a candidate wins an outright majority of first-preference votes (i.e., 50 percent plus one), he or she will be declared the winner.
  3. If, on the other hand, no candidates win an outright majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated from the totals.
  4. With all first-preference votes for the failed candidate eliminated, their second-preference choices indicated on those failed candidate ballots are then added to the totals.
  5. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won an outright majority with these added votes.
  6. The process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of votes cast.
  7. This eliminates the need for a second, runoff election.

An added benefit to this process is that negative, hostile campaigning can make that candidate less well liked, and therefore less likely to be someone’s second or third choice.

Ranked choice voting explained

By Jean Chalmers

There is a serious problem in the way we select people to represent us in government. Often candidates, with less than 50 percent approval, get to sit up there and make decisions that affect our daily life. Often we do not vote for whom we actually support because we know that they will not win. We are confused by “spoiler” candidates who just run to steal votes from another candidate. This may be why so many voters simply stay home from the polls.

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Celebrate International Women’s Day

When: Sunday, March 8, 2 to 6pm

Where: Gainesville Vineyard-The Peoples Church
1100 S.E. 17th Drive, Gainesville (Park in the driveway and behind the church)

Featured Speakers:

• Indigenous People Peace Chant-Georg Suzuki

• STOP White Supremacy Thinking & Actions-Dr. Zoharah Simmons

• STOP Male Supremacy Thinking & Actions-Jessica McLeod (NWL)

• No More Capitalism! No More Classism!-Jenn Powell

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CMC receives award

The Community Excellence Awards events on March 5 will honor the Civic Media Center as recipient of the 2019 Business Arts Award. The CMC is an alternative library, reading room and infoshop in Gainesville whose mission is to provide community access to information and points of view that are under-reported or distorted in mainstream media.

The annual Arts Awards, which are part of the evening’s Community Excellence Awards presentations, are given by the Gainesville Cultural Affairs Board and the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department to recognize those individuals and businesses that have made significant contributions to the advancement of the arts in our community.

The evening will begin at Gainesville City Hall, 200 East University Avenue, at 5:30pm where the evening’s award winners will first be honored with a proclamation by the mayor. The event then moves to the Historic Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave., for the awards ceremony from 6–8pm. 

If you can, come out and show your support for the CMC. It has been 26 years of regular music, poetry, art that has gone hand-in-hand with all the other stuff the CMC does.

SAFEBOR campaign continues with Plan B

by John Moran

The Santa Fe River Bill of Rights campaign is shifting into a new phase as it continues the effort to place a Rights of Nature measure on the 2020 ballot.

The SAFEBOR petition initiative netted more than 4,000 signatures from Alachua County registered voters during the six-month window ending Feb. 21, but was short of the total needed for direct placement on the ballot. 

Plan B has ensued with SAFEBOR organizers appealing directly to both the once-a-decade Charter Review Commission and the Board of County Commissioners to allow voters in November to decide whether to amend the Alachua County Charter to include legally enforceable rights for the Santa Fe River to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.

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From the publisher … Dealing with technology

by Joe Courter

The FUBAR that was the vote counting in the Iowa caucuses, caused by an untested app, the sole reason for which was to speed up the vote tabulation by a few hours, brought to my mind a bumper sticker which I’d noticed around downtown about a decade ago: “Technology is Making us Stupid.” What occurred to me was that it wasn’t so much we were being made stupid, but we were being led to do stupid things: things that while seeming to be an improvement in our lives actually carried negative consequences, especially when we grow to depend upon them.

People used to bring maps along when they traveled, plotted their routes and perhaps found other things to do and see along the way. Now their device tells them what to do, plots their route and, yes, it is quite effective. But go out of range, or have your device fail, well there you are … somewhere. Now our phone remembers most all of our phone numbers, but lose or forget your phone and well, again, there you are.

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