For the fifth episode of The Straw Hat Podcast we sat down with Kerri Audette and Erica Bales from the National Women’s Liberation – Gainesville Chapter to talk about fake women’s clinics, why they’re harmful, and what’s being done to stop them locally.
For the fourth episode of The Straw Hat Podcast we sat down with Jay from the Gainesville Anti-Fascist Committee to talk about what fascism is and what’s being done to combat it in the North Central Florida area. Are you curious about the so called violence of AntiFa or what the organizing around the recent Spencer protest looked like? Here’s your chance to get answers from the source.
For the third episode of The Straw Hat Podcast we sat down with Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos and Connected Gainesville member Bryan Eastman to talk about internet access in Gainesville. We’re looking at why we pay the most in the state for some of the slowest internet, who has access, why there’s almost no ultra fast internet, and what’s being done about it.
For the second episode of The Straw Hat Podcast we sat down with City of Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward to talk about the city’s response to Hurricane Irma. We took a deep dive into what it’s like inside the Emergency Response Center, what the city did well, how GRU prioritizes who gets power restored, what actually happened with GRU drinking water, and what we can do better in the future.
We’re trying out a new podcast about politics in and around the Gainesville area. You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, or Sound Cloud. If there’s any interviews or content you think would be good to cover email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This episode we talked with Katy Burnett from Parents Against Corporate Takeovers who is helping lead the fight against a mega, for-profit charter school coming to South West Alachua County. Recorded on 8/25/2017 at the Alachua County Labor Coalition.
What a week. We’ve had Nazis trying to march in Gainesville, Confederate statues coming down, neo-Confederates getting fired for participating in the Charlottesville marches, massive repression of prisoners political organizing, and more. Also, we’ve recorded our first podcast and are set to release it later this week!
Note: The Straw Hat copy editor was unavailable so expect a high number of typos and spelling errors.
- The University of Florida is not allowing Nazi Richard Spencer to speak on September 12th. The University cited the likelihood of violence as the reason for canceling the event but it’s already being challenged in the courts. Organizers in Gainesville are planning to protest against Spencer if the courts side with him or his supporters show up. (Gainesville Sun) This has everyone on edge. On Thursday the City of Gainesville voted unanimously to allow the Mayor to declare a state of emergency if the white nationalist still show up to protest and the National Guard is mobilizing as if Spencer is still speaking. (Gainesville Sun) Follow the page No Nazi at UF to stay informed.
- The fallout of the Charlottesville terrorist attack has led to two Gainesville residents being fired. Jim O’Brien of Gainesville was fired from North American Roofing Services after we was arrested for a concealed weapons violation at the Unite the Right rally. He had also published a blog rationalizing violence against people on the left. (Tampa Bay Times) Geoffrey Grooms is a member of the neo-Confederate group League of the South and was recognized in videos from the infamous tiki torch rally. He was fired was fired on Tuesday (8/15) from Lucky’s in Gainesville (Gainesville Sun) Grooms’ chapter of League of the South was front and center in attacking anti-racist protesters and jumping random people of color. The Southern Poverty Law Center is calling for an investigation into their savage beating of an African American caught on video. (Southern Poverty Law Center)
- Gainesville took down it’s confederate monument on Monday (8/14). This was a multi year struggle made possible largely by the Alachua County Peace Coalition. (Gainesville Sun) But these aren’t the only confederate monuments in the state. The New Tropic has a good listing of efforts to take down the 30 or so remaining statues but within a quick drive of Gainesville we have:
- White Springs’ massive confederate flag and monument with an inscription of hundreds of dead confederate soldiers.
- Trenton has a obelisk that was erected in 2010.
- Old Town has a veterans memorial that fly a Confederate flag.
- Lake City has a massive obelisk in front of the Columbia Courthouse.
- Four Freedoms Park in Madison County has a confederate monument and a monument to the former slaves.
- Ocala Veteran’s Park has a giant Confederate Soldier.
- Palatka has an exceptionally offense statue at the Putnam County courthouse which praises the confederacy’s cause.
- The monument on the old capitol grounds in Tallahassee should be removed but the Governor claims he doesn’t have the authority to do so. He also isn’t taking a position on whether it should stay or go (Miami Herald)
- Two Pensacola Commissioners have come out in favor of removing the 50 foot tall confederate monument. (Pensacola News Journal)
- Hillsborough County voted 4-2 to not remove their confederate monument unless half the cost to move it was covered by private donations. It took less than 24 hours for the money to be raised. (Tampa Bay Times)
- Fivethirtyeight has a breakdown of polling on what Americans think of removing confederate monuments. It’s important to keep in mind that the majority support leaving these statues up but it breaks down by party and race. “Strong democrats” are the most likely to support removing statues with 57% supporting taking them down while “Trump Supporters” were the worst with 90% wanting to keep them up. Also of interest in these polls is that 11% of Tea Party supports agree with the White Nationalist movement (17% agree with the alt-right). While I and most people reading this blog think these statues need to come down it’s important to remember that some 62% of Americans still want these to stay up. (Fivethirtyeight)
- In Florida there were 2 active KKK groups in 2014 and it climbed to 8 in 2016 with them being most concentrated in North Florida (Live Oak, Jacksonville, Bushnell). But that’s just a fraction of the 63 known hate groups in Florida. (McClatchy)
In Non White Supremacist News:
- Gainesville Commissioner delayed yet again on whether to move City elections from March/April to August/November. Harvey Budd is the swing vote and claims he needs to hear from more people yet he left the chambers as soon as public comment started. He now won’t vote for this until at least November. Commissioner Budd wants to hear from more people and you can email him at BuddHM@cityofgainesville.org and tell him that moving elections saves money and increases turnout. (Gainesville Sun)
- US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Miami this week thanking the County for abandoning their “sanctuary county” status that they’ve held for three years. It pays to carry the water for Trump’s anti-immigrant policies as they’ll be receiving hundreds of thousands in federal grants. As a reminder Alachua County is a sanctuary county and we’re only looking to expand protections of our immigrant community. (Miami Herald)
- Florida Governor Scott wants to add a provision to the state constitution which would make it harder to increase taxes. While there’s no details it would likely require the Florida House and Senate pass any tax increases by a 2/3 majority. If he is successful in getting this on the 2018 ballot it would require 60% of voters to approve. While the merits of this proposal are terrible the ploy is to boost turnout for his US Senate run against Bill Nelson. (Tampa Bay Times)
- Florida Department of Corrections canceled all visitations and locked down all 97,000 prisons this weekend in retaliation for them organizing for basic rights. The event “Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights” would have had rallies take place outside of prisons with prisoners organizing on the inside. (Miami Herald)
- Florida Senator Jack Latvala is officially running for governor. He’s one of the least terrible Republicans in the state. He regularly goes against party leadership to support immigrant rights, workers’ rights, and public education. That said, he still has a lot of terrible politics. (Tampa Bay Time)
- There’s a new effort to repeal a 1926 era state constitutional provision which bars undocumented immigrants from owning land. The constitutional amendment was passed during in a wave of anti-Asian sentiment in the 20’s and is designed to keep Asian farmers from owning or leasing land. (Orlando Sentinel)
- Trump is undoing an Obama era rule that would have made it easier for the elderly and their families to sue nursing homes. Specifically the rule Obama put into place stopped nursing homes from requiring arbitration for the settlement of disputes which greatly favor the nursing homes. This allows bad actors to continue to take advantage of the elderly and is entirely unjustified. (NYT)
- Trump’s entire Arts Council resigned in protest to his slow response in condemning Nazis. The letter itself is a thing of gold with the first letter of each paragraph spelling out R-E-S-I-S-T. (AP News). This came after Trump disbanded his manufacturing council in retaliation to high profile resignations. (NYT)
- Steve Bannon is out of the White House. While he’s a notorious white nationalist he’s not the only one in the White House.(Fivethirtyeight)
- Trump has lifted the 6 year old ban on selling bottled water in National Parks. (NYT)
I’m relaunching the Straw Hat, a weekly news roundup focusing on news and calls to action in the North Central Florida area. This week Trump threatens funding of GPD, president Fuchs green lights a Nazi to speak at UF, and thousands are set to die from the opioid crisis. Quite a week to start back up. I’ll likely be launching a weekly podcast soon to provide additional commentary and analysis. Stay tuned for updates.
- Richard Spencer, a literal Nazi, is slated to speak at the University of Florida’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on September 12th. His talks attract other Nazis who instigate acts of violent, such as the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this past weekend. UF President Fuchs has put out a statement denouncing his rhetoric but supporting his free speech. This is another in a long line of tepid responses to racist incidents on the UF campus. Call 1-866-UF-Facts and tell President Fuchs that there’s no place for Nazi’s at UF. (Gainesville Sun).
- A proposed giant phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties has gained traction again. The process of phosphate mining is highly destructive and would damage the Santa Fe River and our aquifer. Earlier this year Union County Commissioners put a moratorium on new mines but the Bradford County Commission is moving forward with hiring a consultant on August 17th. You can contact the Bradford County Commission at email@example.com or (904) 966-6327 and tell them to put a moratorium on phosphate mining in Bradford County. (link)
- The City of Gainesville will be voting on the Gainesville Votes initiative on Thursday (8/17), which would move Gainesville city elections from the spring of every year to the fall of every other year. This would save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and at least double the number of voters in city elections. You can email all city commissioners at firstname.lastname@example.org to support further democratizing our local politics.
- Alachua County fired manager Lee Niblock in a surprise 4-1 vote on Tuesday (8/8). This is a big deal as the manager has a lot of leeway to carry out policies passed by the Commission. Niblock was receptive and cooperative with unions and the living wage movement while at the County but he upset too many commissioners. He angered the African American community with his firing of a prominent worker on her 25 year service award day (she was white but he tried to rally the African American community against her), he upset progressives by proposing retention bonuses for upper management, and he worried the environmentalists for meddling with tree planting funds and having a sloppy history with Plum Creek. (Gainesville Sun)
- The City of Gainesville Police Department is set to lose $63,771 from a federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant from the Trump administration for being a so-called sanctuary city. This is silly for a number of reasons but the most obvious is that the City of Gainesville cannot enforce a sanctuary policy. There’s no clear definition to what a sanctuary city is but the most cited definition is that they do not hold undocumented immigrants past their scheduled release date without a judicial order. That is, they don’t violate the 4th amendment of the US Constitution. If the federal government tells the Alachua County Sheriff they have a judge’s order to deport a person they’ll hold them. If not it’d be unconstitutional to hold them past their release date regardless of their immigration status. Seems simple enough but what’s really silly about this is that the Gainesville Police Department doesn’t have anything to do with booking because everyone in the County arrested is processed through the Alachua County Sheriff’s office. Not only is the idea of punishing a so called sanctuary cities laughable; the punishment of the wrong agency is just sloppy politicking. The cherry on top of this poorly thought out Trump policy is that it’s very likely illegal. The National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius ruling which stopped the Medicaid expansion under the ACA says that you cannot use funding cuts to coerce states into adopting federal policy. I’m sure this will be included in the recently filed lawsuit from Chicago against the the administration. Follow Madres Sin Fronteras to get involved in the immigrant rights struggle in Gainesville. (Daily Single)
- Miami complained to Trump that they were not a sanctuary County so they were removed from the list. I hope Gainesville wears this attack as a badge of honor. (Miami Herald)
- The Sabal Trail Pipeline sprung a leak in Marion County this week. The trail was protested throughout North Central Florida leading to mass arrests and a death. (WCJB)
- After the Pulse Club Massacre Governor Scott made closed door promises to outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ people by private employers. It’s been over a year since this promise was made and the Governor isn’t responding to requests for updates. (News Journal)
- Trumpcare may be mostly dead but the uncertainty of healthcare is going to drive costs up. Over the past 2 years premiums in Florida have gone up by double digits and the number of insurers have shrunken from 10 to 6 under the Affordable Care Act. But with Trump threatening to cut subsidies this could mean even higher premiums and increases of over $300 for typical ACA market recipients in Florida (Sun Sentinel)
- Florida let $20.4 million in federal money for dealing with addiction expire without replacing it. The last year we had a complete picture of the crises was 2015 which saw 3,900 opioid deaths in Florida. The trend has been going up and it is predicted we will reach well over 6,000 deaths in 2017. We are in an epidemic and clinics are going to start closing or turning people away. Gov. Scott did declare a public health emergency which allowed the state to use some $27 million in federal funding to deal with this crisis but that money cannot go towards detox, drug treatments programs, or crisis centers. The federal government has also taken it’s first steps in declaring a nation state of emergency but Trump has hinted that the funds will go towards tougher law enforcement rather than treatment which public health professions believe will actually work (Naples News and Politico)
- There’s a nursing shortage in Florida. The prediction is that there will be a 50,000 nurse deficit by 2025. We’ve known about it for years and the Florida legislature has been attempting to deal with it since 2009. Their solution was to deregulate nursing schools which doubled the number of programs to ~350 and increased enrollment by 54%. The problem is that these students still have to pass the state license exams and they’re failing at ridiculously high rates. Many of these unregulated and non accredited nursing schools are closing which is leaving students with large debts and little to show for their effort. The best results come from expanding traditional nursing programs like at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida but the state has been reluctant to ditch their ideological drive for privatization. (Sun Sentinel)
- Trump’s department of interior has repealed an Obama era rule that would have made it harder for energy companies to hide the value of national resources extracted from federal and tribal lands. The rule was put in place because it’s estimated that US taxpayers missed out on $30 billion over the last 30 years due to loose oversight. (Returners)