Tag Archives: Alachua County

Take action to protect Alachua County’s water and air

by Mike Byerly, Alachua County Commissioner

If you have only enough time or motivation to attend one government meeting in 2018 in defense of our environment, make it Jan. 23, 5 pm, at the County Administration building. The stakes are high, and turnout could make the difference.

Alachua County is a “charter county.” That means we have a charter, sort of like a constitution, that is the ultimate law on certain matters, and it can only be changed by popular vote.

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The Truth About the Alachua County Budget

by mike byerly, alachua county commissioner

Your county budget is undergoing some serious changes at the hands of the new “conservative” Alachua County Commission majority.

Each year, the Property Appraiser determines the market value of all taxable property in the county and reports this to the County Commission. The County Commission then applies a rate, the millage rate, to this total in order to produce the budget for the coming year. The budget and the millage rate are not the same thing, and can’t be used interchangeably.

If property values decline, but the millage rate stays the same, then the budget will decline by the same percentage as property values. So, it’s possible to increase the millage rate while actually reducing the budget.

This is what happened last year, and the year before.

The budget for the current year’s General Fund (by far the county’s largest fund) is $127,423,057.

Property values are projected to decline by about 3.4 percent this year. To maintain the same actual budget next year, the millage rate would have to be raised 3.4 percent. This is the course I supported. Commissioners Lee Pinkoson, Susan Baird and Winston Bradley voted to keep the millage rate the same, which will now require that the budget be reduced by 3.4 percent, or about $4.4 million.

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The Iguana Guide To The Aug. 14 Election

by joe courter

There’s Election Day, when all should cast an informed vote, and then there is the Process and all the varied ways one can participate in the build-up to the day(s) when votes are cast.

Those who don’t vote because of their disappointment in the national races hurt all those local candidates whose term in office will affect you directly and for whom your vote is significantly more powerful. Like I said last month, people died for their right to vote; it is not too much to ask for you to participate.

So on the big scale, where are we? On Nov. 6 there will be a Democrat and a Republican. We know them. There will be the Green party and the Libertarian Party, both small, principled and, as usual, ignored by the media. The proposed other third party effort – one Dem and one Repub in an online-determined primary ballot called “America Elects” – quietly collapsed in mid-May. That kind of killed the idea of a major third voice getting into the D&R party-controlled debates.

What we will have is a pretty sharp contrast between the disappointing but eloquent Obama and the less articulate and tied to a hard right party Romney. And a tsunami of right-wing money unleashed by Citizens United muddying the discussion to a point of potential disgust for most sane people.

It will be a long 18 weeks from press time in July to the vote. Money and greed have us in a bad mess. Military Madness has the world hating us.

Locally we have City and County governments hamstrung from Tallahassee budget cuts, trying to deal with the shortfall amid much squealing about paying taxes to make up for it by the Republicans (whose own party did all the cutting in Tallahassee in the first place). Add to that the poisoned political climate fostered by hate radio and the corporate media, which focuses on the simplistic and sensational.

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July/August 2012 Iguana Calendar

Want to know what’s going on in Gainesville this month and next? Check out the Iguana’s July/August 2012 Calendar. Print it out and put it in your wallet, on your refrigerator, or pass it on to a friend.

Have an event you’d like to see on the Iguana Community Calendar? Email it to us at gainesvilleiguana@cox.net.

3rd Annual Alachua and Marion Counties Peace Poetry Contest


Mohandas Gandhi said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

With an increasingly corporate-controlled government that seems to have little regard for the views and desires of the American people, it’s easy to feel helpless and voiceless. Dreams of a peaceful world quickly become mere illusions.

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History and the People Who Make It: Marshall Jones


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

Former UF faculty activist leader Dr. Marshall Bush Jones, a WWII Navy Medical Service Corps veteran, was interviewed by Marna Weston [W] on March 9, 2009.

W: When you wrote Berkeley of the South, who were you writing it to?

I wrote it, in the first instance, for myself. I had spent five solid years in movement activity and I wanted to get it out on paper. I wrote it mainly to the people I worked with in those years. For Jim Harmeling, too. I wanted the story of his life to be written down accurately.

Jim was a very unusual young guy in many ways. He was very gifted, attractive, intelligent. He didn’t believe that people were bad or malign. He had a hard time adopting actions which would injure people, even people with whom he very strongly disagreed. He suffered on that account.

Well, they were out for Jim. There’s no question about that. [UF Graduate School Dean Linton] Grinter especially. But you know the part that injured him was not so much the actions, as their malevolence. It was hard for him to understand.

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District Court of Appeal Rules in Favor of Public Education Funding

Report courtesy of Citizens for Strong Schools

In a major legal victory for the local group Citizens for Strong Schools and other public education advocates across the state, the 1st District Court of Appeal has rejected the Florida Legislature’s request to dismiss a lawsuit on educational funding and policies.

In an 8-7 vote, the court ruled that the issues raised in the lawsuit are “of great public importance” and asked the Florida Supreme Court to hear the case.

“We’re thrilled with the ruling,” said Mark McGriff, chairman of Citizens for Strong Schools, an education advocacy group established in 2008. “It means state leaders can’t prevent us from having our day in court.”

The Gainesville-based non-profit Southern Legal Counsel filed the lawsuit back in 2010 on behalf of Citizens for Strong Schools, an Orlando-based group called Fund Education Now and several parents from Duval County. The lawsuit alleges that the state has not lived up to its obligation to provide a ‘uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system’ of public schools.

That obligation is spelled out in Article IX of Florida’s Constitution, which also says that public education is the state’s ‘paramount duty.’ The language was added to the Constitution in 1998 after 72% of Florida voters approved it. Since then, the state has cut school budgets dramatically and shifted more of the responsibility for funding schools onto local communities.

Lawyers representing the legislature, the Board of Education and the Department of Education raised a number of objections to the lawsuit, including a contention that the courts have no role in interpreting Article IX. Circuit Court Judge Jackie L. Fulford rejected that argument back in August of 2010, but state leaders appealed her decision to the District Court of Appeal.

In the court’s majority opinion, one judge wrote that the case “involves a clash of two extremely important precepts,” namely the power of the legislature to fund schools and set educational policy and the right of citizens to demand that the language they added to the constitution be followed–and to appeal to the courts if they believe that’s not happening.

He also wrote that “the defendants are here seeking to derail proceedings in the trial court before they can conclude here.”

Jon Mills was Speaker of the Florida House in 1986-88 and was a member of the Constitutional Revision Commission that drafted Article IX. He is currently teaching law at the University of Florida and is working with the Southern Legal Counsel on the case. He said he fully expects the Supreme Court to take on the case.

“This is a confirmation that the ‘high quality’ provision in the Constitution means what the public thought it meant and that the court believes it’s enforceable,” he said. “That’s the biggest step forward yet and puts us in the best position we could be in at this point.”