January/February 2016 Gainesville Iguana

Jan-Feb 16 Iguana coverThe January-February 2016 issue of the Iguana is now available! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.

Plum Creek vs. Alachua County final public meetings – please attend

Stand By Our Plan has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan, and its importance for our wetlands, strategic ecosystems, regional wildlife corridor, and the rural way of life that many of our citizens have chosen.

All of this is now threatened because a corporation from the west coast wants to turn the Comprehensive Plan on its head, in the interest only of its shareholders.

County staff have strongly recommended denial of Plum Creek’s proposal, and we’re now down to the wire: time for the County Commission to decide.

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History and the people who make it: James Steele

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

This is the 32nd in a series of transcript excerpts from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection at the University of Florida.

James Steele was interviewed by Jessica Charlton [C] in 2011.

S: I was born May 20, 1950. My dad was stationed in the Navy in Key West, so when I was two years old, we moved to Miami. The Seminole Indians still lived in the Everglades, and you can see their chickee huts. They’re canoeing around just a few miles from our house. Now, it’s miles and miles of city built up.

I grew up in North Dade County, just below Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale area, from 1952 to 1974. I owned a home in Miramar when I was nineteen. I turned my yard into a garden and grew trees and herbs. Mother Earth News just came out with its second issue in 1970, focused on getting back to the land. I said, that’s me.

I was a land surveyor at the time. I would travel all of the state surveying. it was the best job in the world, making maps. Traveling around Florida allowed me to see rural land and how pretty it was up here.

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WGOT celebrates 8 years on air, requests assistance to expand

wgot8 (1)by Fred Sowder, WGOT Board Member

For eight years now, WGOT has broadcast on the Gainesville airwaves at 94.7FM, sharing the frequency with two area churches. Two years ago, the FCC gave us permission to move up the dial to 100.1FM to have our own 24/7 broadcast schedule. After renewing our original 18-month window to give us an additional, final 18 months of time, only about a year remains to make the big jump. That will take some fundraising.

To that end, we’ve begun a crowdfunding campaign through generosity.com. Our $33,000 goal will help WGOT’s expansion in many areas, including the new transmitter and equipment to make the move to 100.1; equipment such as mixers, amps, microphones, and turntables for a physical studio location (our staff have been recording shows mostly on their laptops this whole time!); the resumption of our worldwide internet stream (which was recently suspended for financial and legal reasons); and funds to cover rent/lease of a studio space for at least 12 months.

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ELECTION DAY – MARCH 15 Presidential Primary: Vote Bernie Sanders! City Elections: Poe and Hayes-Santos!

There are two dates to remember regarding the Spring elections.  One day is Feb. 16, and the other is March 15. Wednesday, Feb. 16 is the last day to either register to vote or change your party affiliation so you can participate in the presidential primary election, which is on Tuesday, March 15.

Since the presidential primary is limited to the voters registered to that party, anyone who is registered as No Party, Green, Libertarian or whatever, does not get to vote in the Bernie vs. Hillary race.

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7th Annual Peace Poetry Contest call for submissions

Veterans for Peace Gainesville announces its 7th Annual Alachua County Peace Poetry Contest, where all students, grades K–12, are encouraged to submit one original poem focusing on the idea of peace and social justice.

The deadline for submitting a poem to the contest is March 21.

Peace Poetry Announcement 2016 FLIER

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Peace Scholarship Program for Alachua County students

logoGainesville Veterans for Peace Chapter 14 announces its annual Peace Scholarships for the spring of 2016. We are awarding two scholarships of $500 for high school seniors or college students with demonstrated commitment and leadership in activities involving peace & social justice, conflict resolution, and/or nonviolent social change. Deadline for application is April 15.

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Every Student Succeeds … really?

by Martin Maldonado

The passage of a landmark education bill, Every Student Succeeds (ESS) has brought recent attention to Congress as a rare display of bipartisanship. It has even been hailed as a “Christmas miracle” by President Obama himself.

The federal retreat from the supposed invasiveness of the Bush era No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program marks a new era of education. Unsurprisingly, it has easily drawn in Republicans whom for decades have zealously pursued state-led education policy and the removal of federal performance mandates generally advocated for by Democrats and the Bush family statesmen.

The Bush era bill was ridden with issues. Signed in 2001, the bill enacted a byzantine system of testing mandates, private sector access to curriculums and menacing “teach to the test” incentives for teachers. NCLB has received criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for years despite widespread acknowledgement of the law’s good intentions.

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Planning Commission vote tainted

Proposed amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan are first considered by the Planning Commission, a citizen advisory board appointed by the Alachua County Commission, before going to the County Commission. After public hearings in November, the Planning Commission over-rode staff objections and voted 4-2 to recommend approval to the County Commission. The staff had recommended DENIAL. The circumstances surrounding the Planning Commission hearings are now raising serious questions about the fairness of the process.

The chair of the Planning Commission is Jennifer Springfield, a local attorney who has been hired by Plum Creek to assist with their development plans. Plum Creek has now annexed a part of their land into the city of Hawthorne, where it will be exempt from the county’s environmental safeguards. Springfield did not recuse herself from the planning commission vote, nor did she disclose her relationship with Plum Creek before voting to approve their application.

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“Enough is enough!” Florida Education Association’s march and rally at Florida’s Capitol, Jan. 14

image1“Policy makers and education reforms are cheating our children out of a high-quality education. These reforms are designed to meet the needs of adults rather than the needs of our children, and they include high-stakes testing, demonizing of teachers, voucher school and charter school profiteering disguised as ‘choice’ and schemes to undermine Florida’s class size amendment,” said FEA President Joanne McCall about the largest rally in Tallahassee in at least a decade.

Parents, teachers, and community leaders came together – from as far south as Key West and over 600 from Miami, to the tips of the state from Jacksonville and Pensacola and every county in between, including a full bus from Alachua – to kick off the legislative session.

In addition to the teachers’ union’s steady stream of phone calls and visits to key representatives all session, this year new statewide leadership started out by flexing their people power muscle. Only teachers, parents and community leaders spoke. Over 3,000 came and filled the courtyard and pledged to go home and keep up the fight.  Photo by Candi Churchill. 

Black lives matter, Black history matters

February is Black History Month, so keep watch for events in the community.

There are Black History Month events on the Civic Media Center website at www.civicmediacenter.org, and the Alachua Co. Library site at www.aclib.us. Many are on the Iguana’s calendar as well.  There are also UF centered events. Highlights at press time include a program on the evolution of Black Media on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m., location to be announced; a concert sponsored by Student Government Productions at the O’Dome on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m.; and a program on multiculturalism in the workplace on Feb. 23 from 6:30-8:30, at a location to be announced.