2020 City of Gainesville Election Guide 

The City of Gainesville election is underway. Aside from the presidential primary there are three city seats up for grabs. You have to live in District 2 and District 3 to vote in those races but anyone within the city limits can vote for At-large 2. 

Vote By Mail Ballots are already out so be sure to return them. Early voting is from Friday, March 6th until Saturday, March 14  from 9 AM to 6 PM at any of these five locations:

You can vote on election day on Tuesday, March 17th from 7 AM – 7 PM and can find your precinct here.


District 2

Harvey Ward – ACLC QuestionnaireWebsite – Campaign finances

Vote Harvey Ward for District 2 Commission.
Incumbent Commissioner Ward is amazing. By far one of the best elected officials in North Central Florida. He has great politics and is pro-worker, pro-environment, good on queer issues, and is currently serving on Commissioner Gail Johnson’s Equity Committee. He’s not only a good, reliable vote, he is the champion of many issues carrying the water for progressive causes. Right now he’s working with a broad coalition of people to get a hard-to-hire and certified apprenticeship ordinance passed. Once passed this ordinance would require those working on city funded projects to hire a certain number of people deemed hard to hire (ex-felons, long term unemployed, those on SNAP, etc.) and from apprenticeship programs. This would not only help employ those who are hard to hire but would also help out our young people as they learn a trade. Part of apprenticeship program requirements are hours on the job and it’s very difficult for people to get these hours locally. I know this is all really in the weeds of policy so message me if you want more information. I only mention all of this because Ward approached unions in the area and asked for us to help craft this ordinance. This is just one example of the many, many times Ward has been active in seeking progressive legislation. 

David Walle – No ACLC Questionnaire – Website – Campaign finances

In February, David Walle assaulted a candidate by trying to kiss her repeatedly and she had to physically fight him off. This was after stalking her and harassing her for denying him a date. And this is not the first time this has happened. The victim wishes to remain anonymous, which is her right (shame on the media if they publish her name) but I believe her and so should you. He needs to be held accountable for his actions and part of that is denying him a public platform and making people aware of his actions. 


District 3

David Arreola – ACLC Questionnaire – Website – Campaign finances

Vote David Arreola for District 3 City Commission.
Incumbent Commissioner David Arreola has been a good commissioner. He’s sometimes hit or miss on important issues during the debates but he’s a steady progressive vote in the end. He did a great job chairing the Rental Housing Subcommittee whose recommendation, if enacted, will be the most progressive renters rights ordinance in the state. (more information here). His vote that I’m most proud of was his bold move to end the use of inmate labor in Gainesville

Jennifer Reid – No ACLC Questionnaire – No website – Campaign finances.

Reid is his only opponent and she seems nice. I like her but she’s also a Republican running for local office in Gainesville. Whatever reason she decided to run she has some pretty solid working class politics. She has been very public about her support for Congressman Yoho, calling him on the greatest Americans to ever live, which gives me a lot of pause. . 


At Large 2

There’s 4 people running for this seat but only two are in the series contenders. . 

Reina Saco – ACLC Questionnaire – Website – Campaign finances

Vote for Reina Saco. Reina Saco is great. She’s a progressive lawyer whose main work has focused on un/semi documented immigrants and domestic violence survivors. She wrote the Renters Bill of Rights (see above) and is solid on pretty much every progressive issue. She lead the charge to get GPD to change policies after they royally screwed up a case with an undocumented domestic volence survior. One of the things I’m most excited about is that she’s a progressive lawyer who can dislodge some of these log jams at the City Attorney’s Office. Many progressive ordinances are held up for years due to high ranking staff.

 Sherwin Henry – ACLC Questionnaire – Website – Campaign Contributions

Sherwin Henry was the D1 commissioner for 6 years before running for mayor and losing badly. His politics are great and I especially like his stances on decentralization poverty by requiring affordable housing in other places besides East Gainesville. If Henry is elected I think he’ll be a great commission but I don’t think he can push things through the bureaucratic holdups in the city right now. It also gives me pause that so many realtors, land investors, and backwards poster child State Senator Keith Perry gave him money.

There’s also Paul Rhodenizer (no ACLC Questionnaire. Website. Campaign finances), who is a kinda clueless Republican that someone talked into running.

And there’s Gabe Kaimowitz (ACLC Questionnaire. No website. Campaign finances.) who’s a racist, sexist, queerphobe running for reasons that escapes me. His vitriol for Reina Saco in seemingly endless emails need to be called out for what they are: hateful rhetoric from a delusional man. 

2020 City of Gainesville Election

2018 GENERAL ELECTIONS GUIDE – Alachua County

The Midterm Elections are happening NOW. Vote by mail ballots were sent out last week and should be in voters’ hands by the week of the October 8th (you can request or track your ballot here).

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from Monday, October 22nd until Saturday November 3rd from 9 AM – 6 PM at:

You can also vote on election day, Tuesday November 6th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you can find your voting location here. I’ve changed the order of the ballot around since the bottom of the ballot needs more attention.

These are my views and in no way reflect those of any organizations that I’m associated with.

Referendums:

Constitutional Amendments:

There’s a long list of proposed amendments, which need to pass by 60% of the vote to become law. The League of Women Voters has gone through a good explanation of all 13 of these but briefly:

Amendment 1:
Grants an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for property tax. This loss of revenue would cripple local governments from being able to provide services.
VOTE NO.

Amendment 2: Would permanently cap at 10% the maximum value increase for non-homestead properties. This includes places like vacation homes,, vacant land, and office parks. This is something that is already in law but is set to expire in 2019. If it’s allowed to expire local governments would be allowed to collect taxes on the true value of these properties. VOTE NO.

Amendment 3: Restricts the expansion of gambling. I might catch flak for this as a prude, but I think gambling should be outlawed due to predatory practices exploiting people with addictions. Anything to slow it down is good to me. VOTE YES.

Amendment 4: Restore voting rights for most felons who have served their time. VOTE HELL YES.

Amendment 5:
Would require a 2/3 majority to to increase taxes. This is another way to protect reactionary tax cuts for generations.
VOTE NO.

Amendment 6: Changes victim rights and the way the courts interpret laws. Most of the rights are already in state law and the changes to the courts are problematic. VOTE NO.

Amendment 7: Supermajority requirements for raising tuition, imposing student fees, and gives death benefits to first responders. While I’m for free public education, that’s not an option and rich kids should pay right now. VOTE NO.

Amendment 8: The Supreme Court removed this from the ballot. It was a bad amendment anyway. VOTE NO.

Amendment 9: Prevents some offshore oil drilling and vaping indoors. This would only stop oil drilling 9 miles off the West/South coast and 3 miles off the East coast. No one wants to drill this close to shore because there’s no oil there. The Deepwater Horizon, which devastated beaches, was over 100 miles off the Florida coast. There is a fear that this being voted down will be a sign to that Florida doesn’t care about the environment, but I think the opposite is true. Passing a do nothing amendment will placate many people into thinking something was actually done. As far as vaping indoors, that’s douchey and can be outlawed via statute. VOTE NO.

Amendment 10: Creates a counterterrorism unit in the state and mandates a bunch of stuff on counties. We don’t need this. VOTE NO.

Amendment 11: Removes an antiquated anti-Asian law that says immigrants can’t own land. It would also allow the state legislature to apply sentencing reform on those already convicted of crimes. VOTE YES.

Amendment 12: Bans elected officials from being lobbyists while in office and for 6 years after leaving office, as well as other anti-corruption measures. A major issue with this amendment is that it’ll be very hard to change once enacted. But this is the only way to get something like this passed, since there’s no real mechanism for voters to directly pass legislation and elected officials won’t pass this themselves. John Dewey famously said that government is the shadow cast by big business.This bill wouldn’t end that relationship but would throw a wrench in it. VOTE YES.

Amendment 13:
Bans Greyhound racing. Greyhound racing is awful. Just awful.
VOTE YES.


County Referendums:

Children’s Trust of Alachua County
Would set up a special taxing district with a board who will oversee the funds. The funds would go towards postnatal care, childcare for working families, after school programs, etc. Vote yes unless you hate children.


Half-Cent Sales Surtax to Improve School Facilities

Schools in Alachua County are not doing well, and it’s mostly because of cuts from Tallahassee politicians (isn’t Senator Perry awful?). This tax would add a half cent to your sales tax and the money itself would would go to school infrastructure. Two schools in East Gainesville will be completely remodeled but every school is getting numerous projects. Vote yes on the half cent sales tax because children deserve better schools.


Municipal Referenda on Privatizing Gainesville Regional Utilities

This is one of the most important things on the ballot. It was placed here by Representative Clemons and Senator Perry. Aren’t they just the worst? Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) has a sign above its headquarters that reads “Owned by the People it Serves,” which is a problem for reactionaries. Right now GRU is controlled by elected Gainesville Commissioners and this referendum seeks to change it to an appointed, unaccountable, board. The endgame is privatization of this publicly owned utility. Since GRU is owned by us, we can move beyond profit, which is the narrow goal of privatized utilities. Gatornet, the GRU owned fiber optics network, is signed onto the Net Neutrality pledge while Cox fought against it. GRU has moved away from mountaintop removal coal, added solar feed in programs, and built a carbon neutral biomass plant, all of which cut into the profits of GRU. Vote no on the GRU referendum because people should have democratic control of our utilities. Also Keith Perry is awful and he wants this, so don’t let him have it


City of Gainesville Charter Amendment City Commission Elections and Terms of Office

This referendum is years in the making. This would move city elections from the current March/April to the August November cycle. It’s important because turnout for city elections hovers between 10% and 15% outside a presidential primary. It would also save a lot of money for the city and time for voters. Vote yes for better elections.


Local/Regional Races

County Commissioner District 2

Marihelen Wheeler is a retired union teacher, who is good on the environment and great on workers’ issues. She’ll also the only woman on the 5 member board of County Commissioners. Vote for Marihelen Wheeler because she earned it.


Justice of the Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals

It’s weird that there’s an option to recall or retain judges. The judicial branch is supposed to be outside of politics but that has changed a lot in recent years (see the successful recall of the Judge Aaron Persky in the Stanford rape case). This is the moment we live in and we should vote no on the Rick Scott Appointments.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Alan Lawson for his 2011 opinion an important LGBTQ+ issue.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Harvey Jay.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Stephanie W. Ray.

Vote yes for Brad Thomas.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Kemmerly Thomas.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Allen Winsor.


Circuit Judge 8th Judicial Circuit Group 8

David Robertson is a former military lawyer and current Department of Transportation chief counsel. His job is under threat at the DOT because of the large number of affairs he has had with subordinates. Obviously, he’s now working tirelessly to get the whistleblower fired.
Meanwhile Gloria Walker is the managing Attorney and Director of Litigation at 3 Rivers Legal Services which services the abused, disabled, elderly, and poor. Read her story, cry little, give her campaign a few dollars, and then go vote for her. Vote for Gloria Walker because she’s the most qualified for the job.


County Judge Group 2

I like both of the candidates for this seat. Craig DeThomasis is a local defense attorney who firm has represented people facing political persecution in Alachua County. And Meshon Rawls is a distinguished UF Law professor who has spent much of her career defending juveniles in the criminal justice system. I’ll be voting for Rawls but I will still be very happy if DeThomasis wins the set.


School Board District 3

There’s are some very vocal people who really, really dislike Gunnar Paulson. At times he can be abrasive and I understand why people would focus the perceived failures of the current school board on him. He’s been good for the teachers and paraprofessionals in many ways though. Nonetheless I understand why some people are not supporting him in this election.

What I don’t understand is why anyone is supporting April Tisher. She is a Republican who wants more cops in schools and can count anti-education Florida Senator Keith Perry and the John Birch Society as her supporters. I don’t understand how progressives could vote for a reactionary as opposed to voting for Paulson or leaving the ballot blank.


Soil and Water Conservation District Group 3

Seldom do you see an actual fascist face off against an actual socialist. But this is 2018 and we have Chris Rose II, a neo confederate jerkwad, running against comrade-in-arms Kaithleen Hernandez. Soil and Water is a nonpartisan election so you sometimes get the Green Party, Communist Party USA , Freedom Party, or the the Libertarian Party of Florida, but this is a first for me. Vote for Kaithleen Hernandez because she will slow down the big agriculture development of North Central Florida. As a bonus, you also get to not vote for a fascist.


State and Federal Races

State Senator District 8

There’s not enough negative things that can be said about the current Senator in District 8, Keith Perry. He’s tried to preempt our wage theft ordinance (spoiler: his business has been found guilty of wage theft), has kneecapped our local hiring preference which helps out young construction workers in certified apprenticeship programs (spoiler: his business benefited from this), and he recently pushed a bill that would lead to the privatization of Gainesville Regional Utilities (spoiler: his donors would benefit from the privatization). He’s pushed tax cuts that have benefited him and his rich friends, was the deciding vote on HB 7069 which is leading to the closure of Hawthorne Middle/High School, and has put school privation on steroids. And he’s terrible on Stand Your Ground, is opposed to marijuana decriminalization, and and has offered little more than lip service for felon re-enfranchisement. To put it bluntly, Perry sucks.

But this is a rough district for anyone to win. Obama carried it in 2012 by 1.2% and Trump won in 2016 by 0.2%. Yet Perry walked away in 2016 with 53% of the vote (Rod Smith was a blue dog democrat former State Attorney who was extremely problematic). This seat is all the more difficult now that former Gainesville Commissioner Charles Goston decided (or was coached) to run without any party affiliation as a giant fuck you to white liberals, unions, black women, and the entire coalition who helped get him out of office.

Kayser Enneking is someone many progressives are predisposed to distrust. She’s a well educated, rich, white woman, born into wealth, who few movement activists knew much about before she decided to run for office. I was prepared to vote against Perry more than vote for her. But she’s shown up for things that matter to this community. She’s been to living wage meetings at the Civic Media Center and Renters’ Rights meetings at the Alachua County Labor Coalition offices. She’s also followed up in advocating at UF for OPS workers and put work in on causes that progressives care about. She’s also a powerful woman breaking into the almost-all-boys-club of state politics and is a physician who been a consistent advocate for access to healthcare. Vote for Enneking because she’ll push for a living wage and housing rights inside and outside the Florida Senate.


State Representative District 21

Vote for Jason Haesler because he’ll be a good Representative. And let’s be honest, if you got this far on the blog you’re already voting straight Ds.

He also has a sweet beard.


United States Senator:

US Senator Nelson is not a progressive by any stretch of the imagination. He hasn’t signed on as a cosponsor or said he would support Senate Bill 1804, the Medicare For All Act. He’s not great on Palestine and is generally pro-empire (imperialism, war, etc.). He was part of the Clinton “New Democrat” coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats who cut back social spending to anemic levels and domestically waged war on black and brown people. It’s important that we do not whitewash Nelson’s politics for expediency. But as Trump showed us – it can get worse.
Rick Scott is one of those most vile politicians in the history of Florida. He’s a millionaire who oversaw one of the largest Medicare frauds in history and bought his way into his seat. He continues to make himself and his friends richer at the expense of working people. His formula of tax cuts, school privatization, social spending cuts, and the over policing of people of color would be brought to DC. Vote Bill Nelson for US Senate because he’s not Rick Scott.


Representative in Congress District 3

Congressman Ted Yoho is just awful. Most recently he pondered why the Kavanaugh accusers didn’t come out sooner while claiming Roy Moore’s charges were bogus (link). The list of things he’s said and done is so absurd it’s hard to believe he’s a real person. Hell, he said said only landowners should be allowed to vote in 2014 and was still elected. Twice.
Yvonne Hayes Hinson is a former City of Gainesville Commissioner who lost to Goston in 2015. She was good on her three years on the city commission but it’s an uphill battle against Yoho. Fivethirtyeight gives her a less than 1 out of 100 chance of winning this strongly conservative district. Nonetheless, vote for Yvonne Hayes Hinson because she’d be a good Congressperson.


Governor and Lt. Governor

There’s a real opportunity for Florida to elected a progressive Governor with Andrew Gillum. The Miami native, who grew up in Gainesville, is the current Mayor of Tallahassee. He’s called for a $50,000 starting salary for teachers (paid for by taxing the rich). He’s an environmentalist, wants to reign in Stand Your Ground, and stop private prisons. While not directly under investigation, his administration has a lot of baggage due to corruption in local politics. And of course he’s also a progressive black man and the far right will use any dog whistles they can.

Ron Desantis won his primary in large part thanks to support from Trump. After winning the nomination he couldn’t wait a full 24 hours before starting the racism by calling on voters not to “monkey up” the election by voting for this “articulate spokesperson for Socialism”. And this is a theme he’s used throughout his campaign. Scare white people away from Gillum by calling him a gay socialist criminal. Vote for Gillum/King in November unless you’re a racist. In that case, how’d you find this blog?


Attorney General

The Florida Attorney General is a very important position. There’s high profile things they can do like sue the Trump like sue the Trump administration over family separations, but most of their work is in state. Of particular interest to me is the prosecution of violations to the state’s minimum wage law. When we were working on the Alachua County Wage Theft ordinance we called the Attorney General’s office to see what data they had and found that they were unaware that they had this responsibility.

Sean Shaw has committed that, if elected, his office will start prosecuting wage theft violations, loosen regulations on marijuana, and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. He also has one of the most progressive voting records in the Florida house and has been a strong supporter of public schools. Vote for Sean Shaw because we need someone to keep the bosses who steal our wages in check.


Chief Financial Officer

Jeremy Ring is a millionaire, an early employee at Yahoo, and your run-of-the-mill technocratic Democrat. He was lukewarm while in the Florida Senate, even becoming one of the few Democrats allowed to chair a committee in the Republican controlled chamber. That said, he’s mountains better than the Republican running, Jimmy Patronis.
Vote for Jeremy Ring because you don’t know what the Florida CFO does but you’re pretty sure you don’t want a Republican doing the job.


Commissioner of Agriculture

This is a pretty important position with a lot of say over consumer protections. Of most interest to me Is Niki Fried’s positions on deregulating medical marijuana and taking on the NRA. Matt Caudwell is an unimpressive white dude who thinks that wearing ridiculous bow ties has prepared him for one of the most important elected positions in Florida.

Vote for Nikki Fried because she’ll help bring smokable medical marijuana to Florida.


Pdf document

 

2018 Gainesville Elections Guide

Gainesville City Elections are underway! Vote by mail ballots were sent out last week and are already in voters’ hands (you can request or track your ballot here).

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from Saturday, March 10th until Saturday, March 17. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM, and Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM – 6 PM at:

You can also vote on election day, March 20th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you can find your voting location here.

Two City Commission seats are up this year, District 1 (D1) and At-Large 1 (AL1). AL1 represents all of Gainesville while D1 is the Eastern part of Gainesville (map).  60% of registered voters in D1 are non-white, compared with 40% in AL1. D1 is also the only district in Gainesville with a majority non-white population making this seat vital for representation of communities of color.


At-Large 1

Commissioner Harvey Budd is running for re-election which means he gets to be judged on his actions over the last 3 years. Most relevant to me is when Commissioner Budd voted against living wage increases for City of Gainesville workers (link). He eventually changed his vote, but was one of only two commissioners who later voted against a living wage increase for part-time city workers (link). He also voted against the purchase of the GREC power plant, which is expected to lower the average electric bill by 10% (link). Just last year, he wanted to develop the Weiss property (the largest undeveloped tract in Gainesville), instead of conserving it, which was one key reason he did not receive an endorsement from the Sierra Club. He also held the Gainesville Votes initiative hostage as he was worried people like him wouldn’t be able to be elected if turnout was higher. (link).

The thing is, all of these progressive initiatives got done regardless of Commissioner Budd. Hell, he even agrees with many of the things he’s voted against. He wanted to pay a living wage to city workers, just not the way that the other City Commissioners or activists (including 2015 candidate Budd) wanted. He also wanted to purchase the GREC power plant to lower utility costs; he just didn’t want to pay the purchasing price that the rest of the commission agreed to. He supported moving City elections to November but only if there was an instant runoff, which isn’t currently viable for legal reasons, as had been previously explained to him. His one vote has been an unnecessary complication for progressive causes in Gainesville. At best he’s been a bad dealmaker and at worst an obstructionist. Many of the progressive organizations which supported him in 2015 are either supporting his opponent or staying out of this race.

Gail Johnson is a breath of fresh air in the race for At Large 1. Not only would it be great to have a woman of color on this mostly white (5 out of 7) and mostly male (6 out of 7) commission, but more importantly she would do a great job. Her platform is solid, she has the momentum to beat Budd, and honestly, I can’t wait to work with her to get progressive legislation passed. I expect her to win by double digits.  A vote for Gail Johnson is a vote for progress.


District 1

Commissioner Charles Goston has been in office for 3 years. He’s a former union president and owner of Black College Monthly magazine His record in office has been mixed. Two recent actions  which upset me are that he came out against requirements that rental properties meet a basic level of energy efficiency, and he published a wildly inaccurate anti-union article in his publication. For the most part he’s been decent on issues that matter. But as we say in the South, he’s more hat than cattle. He’s know for railing against institutional racism in the city, but has done very little to dismantle it. His boasting has led to him being fact checked by the Gainesville Sun in January and February. His inaction in the city has also prompted two well qualified challengers.

Tyra ‘Ty Loudd’ Edwards is an community organizer through and through. She’s an activist who bleeds progressive politics. Edwards attends the leftist meetings, isn’t afraid to be “Loudd” to authority figures, and is someone I consider a comrade in the fight for economic and racial justice. If you’re reading this blog you most likely have met her at the Civic Media Center, the Porters Community Center, or on TV holding the City Commission accountable for their actions (and often inactions) in East Gainesville. Simply put, she’s earned your vote by putting her actions where her politics are. Edwards has only raised ~$1,200 but isn’t running a traditional campaign. She’s knocking on every door she can and focusing on turning out youth of color. Activists candidates have attempted nontraditional campaigns in the past but, to my knowledge, none have been successful.

Gigi Simmons is another strong candidate. She’s been on a lot of boards, understands how the city government works, and is very active in liberal causes. She’s been endorsed by the Florida AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Human Rights Council, Zero Waste Gainesville, and the Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation. She earned these endorsements because she’s very impressive in her depth of knowledge and her resolve to address problems facing East Gainesville. She’s raised ~$5,000 to Gostons ~$8,000 which puts her in a place where she can run an effective traditional campaign.

In order for someone to be elected to office they need 50% +1 of the votes. With District 1 being a three way race it’s very likely that this will go to a runoff on April 17th. Vote for Tyra ‘Ty Loudd’ Edwards or Gigi Simmons on March 20th. Both would be great City Commissioners and you will likely get a chance to vote for one of them again in the run off.


Alachua County Labor Coalition Questionnaires

While the ACLC doesn’t endorse I found these questionnaires very useful.

2018 Gainesville Sample Ballot

Podcast: National Women’s Liberation – Gainesville Chapter

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.

You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover for future episodes email us at info@thestrawhat.org

Podcast: Gainesville Anti-Fascist Committee

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.

You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover for future episodes email us at info@thestrawhat.org

Podcast: Connected Gainesville and Access to Internet in Gainesville

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.

You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover for future episodes email us at info@thestrawhat.org

Podcast: A Conversation on Hurricane Irrma With Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward

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.

You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover for future episodes email us at info@thestrawhat.org

Podcast: Parents Against Corporate Takeovers

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 info@thestrawhat.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. 

Week in Review (8/20/17)

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.

Nazi Watch:

  • 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)

Confederate Statues:

  • 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)

Around Florida:

  • 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)

National

  • 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)

Week in Review 8/13/17

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.


Local:

  • 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 bocc@bradfordcountyfl.gov 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 citycomm@cityofgainesville.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)

State:

  • 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)

National:

  • 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)