City commissioners express concern about Clemons’ proposed local bill

Commissioner Bryan Eastman expresses his concerns with Clemons’ local bill


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – During member comment at the end of today’s General Policy Committee meeting, City Commission Bryan Eastman brought up the local bill that has been proposed by Rep. Chuck Clemons: “Putting the partisanship aside, putting the politics of this aside, I want to make sure we have a working City government, one where, when someone needs a police officer, an officer is there; one where, when they turn on the lights, their lights are on… Gainesville Regional Utilities and the City of Gainesville have grown together for 110 years…  I don’t know how we provide core services when half the city, under GRU, is overseen by a board not accountable to the City, whether it’s a Democrat appointing them or a Republican appointing them. Whether we sitting up here are Democrats or Republicans – we’re nonpartisan, but privately, whatever our party affiliation is, I don’t know how we run the City under that.” 

Eastman said he knows Clemons cares about the city, but “I would hope that he would think about the lineworkers that are out there, about our police officers, about our firefighters… My biggest worry about it is that it does it without asking the people that actually pay the GRU rates or live within the city of Gainesville what they want.”

Eastman didn’t want to make a motion but asked his fellow commissioners to talk to anyone who cares about “having working police within our community, having electricity within our community, talk to them about what the ramifications of this could be, and see if we can turn the temperature down on this a bit… If we’re going to make a major change to this, the people should have a say… I think this could be devastating to our ability to provide core services to our residents.”

Commissioner Ed Book said he is also “extremely worried about it.” 

Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut said, “The one critical point… is that GRU is owned by the people.” She asked the City Attorney whether the legislature “can take a core service that is owned by the people without a referendum.”

City Attorney Daniel Nee said, “Yes. The legislature has a tremendous amount of power over the municipalities. We aren’t counties. We aren’t constructs of the constitution; we are creations of the legislature… Aside from ensuring that the debt owed by the municipality is protected and that its creditors are protected, the legislature has wide latitude in the ways in which it can create and destroy and change a municipality.”

Chestnut said they should all go to Tallahassee next week for the hearing, tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 17, at 11 a.m.

Mayor Harvey Ward said the bill doesn’t take GRU away, but it takes decision-making away from the people: “I would hope that if this were to go forward, it would go forward with a component to ask the people… Maybe they’ve changed their minds since 2018.” He said he would support having the whole GRU service area make that decision. “I think we all believe that asking the people is at the core of all this stuff that we do. Otherwise, we could make it a whole lot more efficient, to just make decisions in an entirely different way, but that’s not what we say we’re about.” Ward said he intends to go to the hearing for the local bill next Friday in Tallahassee.  

Book suggested inviting the legislative delegation to meet with the city commission: “It can’t hurt to ask.” Ward said he would get a letter out to the delegation tomorrow. 

  • The disillusioned Mayor and Fellow Commissioner’s have never allowed or considered County GRU Taxslaves with no voice as valid citizens , Now they come crying for input . Now they say it has never been political. The first place they go is Police and Fire safety every time. In the midst of their defund the Police regime and lawless late night Alcohol abuse they now have a concern? You own your demise and well deserved dismantling. As a County Citizen the last thing I want is be controlled by this reckless , prejudice City Commission past and present. We need State Governance and Protection to make sure essential Police , Fire and Safety , K9 units included are a priority . Not pet projects and yes Democrat Progressive agendas are not . The Double Speak and GRU Kickback should cease and desist tomorrow. Go ahead, march up or bike up to Tallahassee. That will only speed up your removal. Take your Biomass debt and shove it.

    • Now they plead “We’re all in this together” Even the 40% of ratepayers who cannot vote in the City elections.

      • Agree! All of the above is BS. Saying “by the “people” they are basically saying by the City Commission who have made such a HUGE MESS of GRU and huge mess of city gov since 2016 when Poe and his yes men on CCOM (several of whom never had a professional job in their life) ran a fine city, with one huge error – 30 yr biomass contract, straight into the radical ground. Support the Clemons bill and get elected CCOM members, with ZERO experience running large utilities, out of the way!

    • The cherry on top is the same city voters elected Brandon, who gave us high electric bills — intentionally! And the gullible voters believe him when he blames others, instead of Ukraine war and his own domestic energy policy incompetence.

  • All of these liberals talking about, “GRU belonging to the people” and “decision-making being taken away.” They need to have the decision-making taken away from them. Every decision they’ve made over the past 20 years has been bad for the city, bad for the residents.

    I would like to ask what readers have ever felt they had a voice in the decisions being made by GRU? If some feel they have, why would you be such an idiot to not only raise your utility rates but to have even considered the Biomass fiasco?

    The city commissioners control GRU NOT YOU! Time to stop, way past time to stop, believing their lies and their leading you to believe they know what’s best for you.

  • Sure Harvey and crew, we really WANT you to continue misappropriating the money we pay for utilities for your pet projects…PLEASE legislature, SAVE US!! 🙏

  • Eastman, “I don’t know how we provide core services when half the city, under GRU, is overseen by a board not accountable to the City.” What a sob story, now the Mayor and CC want to forget which side of the aisle they are on and be team players, and nonpartisan! He wants the citizens of GNV to “have a say.”

    Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut said, “The one critical point… is that GRU is owned by the people.” That is a load of crap too; the people have NO say over GRU!

    That is not how they went about the people’s business until Clemons proposed the bill! Lying sacks of crap!

    They see the cash cow slipping from their grip and now are sowing fear among the people by talking no electricity, no police (less than even now?), no emergency or firefighting personnel! The cuts come from the frivolous spending pots!

    Essential services get funded! The theme painted crosswalks, nonessential travel, conference attendance via Zoom meeting only, free meals, mileage for personal vehicles (use a city vehicle for in and around travel), and the rest of nonessential projects and boondoggles get zero funding.

    • Soon they will whine that social security and medicare will be affected.

  • County residents are under a GRU monopoly, yet we have no voice on the citizen owned utility. No right to Public Service Commission oversight. The GRU board is the city commission, so no appeal there. We pay a service fee for the privilege of being served by the monopoly and must affirm we will comply with applicable city ordinances. Bills are delayed, our usage then hits the higher tier and we pay a higher rate. Costs are unpredictable, our bill last month almost tripled, and we are not electric customers.

    We need management of GRU to be accountable to the citizens outside of the city of Gainesville. In actuality, county residents are underwriting the cost of city program general fund.

    • Much of the county is under Clay and other utilities, but the cash cow suburbs are under GRU. The city doesn’t want those Red voters, just their wallets.

      • Reading all these comments makes me even happier that I live in the county, have Clay Electric, and that these clowns don’t have any say over me.

  • If they want to fund rainbow streets, bike lanes, street narrowing, blah blah over police and fire services …. Well, let them explain that to their constituents. I’m sure that’ll go over well.

    The deal is done. Control of GRU is changing – it’s out of their hands. The only question is whether it’s July 1 or sometime next year. Sorry!

    • No more rainbows in downtown intersections….Don’t forget the social justice artwork…..I’m still traumatized with the imagery in my mind of the black guy with a face mask on with his hands up with the capital building in the background at that little park on NW 8th Ave…it only came down after it was hit by vandalism…the park ( which is an essential service) is now peaceful
      Again after that monstrosity was removed..Now Eastman mentions police? The police need k9 now.
      The citizens need the police to have k9 now without having to call Lonnie Scott to have them deployed. Now we need a new police Chief too after he agreed to that…I think Police moral would be low after that…Cynthia Curry should be fired right now for increasing crime, vagrants, panhandling in medians, violence, criminals being imported from other places to Grace Marketplace, and emasculating the police K-9 unit. I think Desantis
      Needs to replace all the commissioners except Ed Book, fire Cynthia Currry, replace Lonnie Scott, get rid of anything related to DEI and climate change…get rid of the Chinese lady Climate Czar and the state take control of GRU….democrat leadership since Hanrahan has been a disaster….they ruined our utility going biomass to stop climate change, saddled us with bankrupting debt, and increased undesirable crime pandering to criminals by being woke and implementing UN agenda here locally. No net 0 by 2045 to stop climate change because that will triple our debt. The commission is still playing games. Desantis, come in and fix this mess…

  • Did Eastman just arrive on the turnip truck? Is he unaware that THE CITY COMMISSION answers to NO ONE?
    He is concerned about a possible State Board? The COMMISSION has in the past and it appears now to be unconcerned with what the population of the city wants or is concerned about.
    I hear whining now that their jobs may be in jeopardy.
    Maybe they are guilty of criminal acts… Being discovered has them worried.
    Follow the money…

  • So a paid political operative hack suddenly wants to put politics aside. Maybe he shouldn’t have worked so hard to oppose the Independent Board when it was on the ballot that would have least allowed the City Commission to fill the seats with his cronies.

  • Harvey ward says it would take decision making away from the citizens, no. It takes decision making power away from the corrupt city commissioners is what it does, we need oversight in this city. Because the city commissioners and the mayor and the city management has run GRU to the ground and ruined it. They have proven they have no ability to manage GRU. Please ask us because we have seen what the city management has done. They may not like what we have to say.

    • Right. They’re developing a false narrative in hopes that it will make it appear the JLAC is attacking the ratepayers. It won’t work. In desperation, the commission has resorted to attacking the very committee empowered to remove them from office.

    • She was hoping their new family funeral home would open in time for the new eastside senior center across the street 🤑🤑🤑

  • “See what the people have to say”? WTF? We been screaming that we can’t pay these high ass light bills. Where the heck has this man been? A commission that wants to hear what the have to say, hmmm I remember the entire city saying don’t end single family housing and the board didn’t want to listen. Or how about the people don’t want there city destroyed by tall unnecessary ugly ass buildings oops they didn’t listen then. GTFOH Eastman you liberal hack. You know you lying! Tallahassee please save the fine citizens of Gainesville from the evil that sits on that board.

  • Panic has set in the cash cow GRU is going to Change as it should I am one of the 40 plus % who has to have GRU with clay electric 150 yards from my home last month GRU was 285.00 this morning bill 399.00 no way we used that much

    • “They” being the city voters and the DEC. This ordeal is Exhibit A for why a person should not vote for political hacks, unemployable ne’er do wells and progressive cause true believers for positions running significant economic enterprises, like the city and GRU. Hopefully the governor will avoid picking from the same skill sets on the other side of the aisle for the governing board.

      • “Daddy. make those mean men stop it!”

        You’re surrendering to autocracy, local government ruled from Tallahassee. Maybe you should try winning local elections.

        • Your entire argument is based on the voice of a child asking daddy to make someone stop?


          Sounds like your whining rather than providing an solution.

          Unwillingness and poor leadership has failed to address this problem.

          When local rule fails you can expect the state to take action.

          • That’s not all that can’t be fixed. Guess those masks didn’t work did they?

            They, those bad people, (since they’re gender neutral now), need to be run out of town. If it were up to me I would drop them in a country that shares their political ideologies.

          • Dude, the GOP has lost the popular vote for president 7 out of the last 8 elections. I think you’re probably in the wrong country.

          • Just further proof that the regression of society continues and the dumbing down of voters by democrats is fulfilling it’s intended purpose.

            No wonder students don’t want to pay back the loans they signed up for and discipline continues to spiral downward.

          • Perhaps you can provide a solution to the problems with local government rather than attempt the change the subject?

            Or would you prefer to continue with childish comments about being tucked in at night?

          • As in all local problems in a democracy, the citizens vote new leaders and pay the bills. Any questions?

          • You live in a democratic republic and not a democracy.

            State law allows for an independent governing authority in the event GRU can not be managed properly.

            City Government has far exceeded the criteria for poor fiscal management and have resulted in far too many high bills at the expenses of citizens through the county.

            Most importantly, those of us who have to deal with GRU who are not within the city limits have no voice in electing those who control GRU.

            Our voice is not being heard in Gainesville. But our representatives in Tallahassee are hearing all of us.

          • A “democratic republic” is a form of democracy. We live in a democracy and sorry you don’t like that.

            Do you seriously expect your utility company to seek your input anywhere but in the “Suggestions” box? By the way, I too am a county resident who is served by GRU. Yes, mistakes have been made and corrections will be necessary. However, I have also been served by Clay Electric and Duke at my house and GRU by far has more regular uninterrupted service and fast service when necessary.

        • Its more accurate to say were trying to get away from “taxation without representation”. And we’re trying to get away from governing board that’s frankly incompetent to some people who can actually do math.

          I will believe the city has my interests at heart the day they change the charter so the two at-large seats would be voted on only by voters living in the GRU service area outside of the city limits.

          • The Gainesville City Commission has a new majority. I don’t think DeSantis will be asking you for input on his new board – he definitely won’t ask me – nor will Duke Energy which some expect will ultimately take over.

  • “We’re nonpartisan…” Way to go Eastman! Start the comments with a lie.
    Then follow that up with falsely claiming “My biggest worry about it is that it does it without asking the people that actually pay the GRU rates or live within the city of Gainesville what they want.” ~ That’s something they know an awful lot about.

    Mr. Nee says, “that the debt owed by the municipality is protected and that its creditors are protected, the legislature has wide latitude in the ways in which it can create and destroy and change a municipality.” I seriously doubt the legislature can destroy the city any more than what local leadership has done already. They’ve had their chance, time to give someone else the opportunity. Most would agree it can’t get any worse.

    Two Face Harvey says, ” “I think we all believe that asking the people is at the core of all this stuff that we do. Otherwise, we could make it a whole lot more efficient, to just make decisions in an entirely different way, but that’s not what we say we’re about.” ~ He hasn’t changed since becoming mayor. He’s still a liar.

    If they don’t like it, they should resign and lesson the debt.

  • Either the state I get ends or both GRU and the City go down the toilet. One way or another, raising costs on a poor tax base city that pretends it’s rich, or cutting unneeded perks that other gov’t entities do — UF, county, state, federal and NGO programs do — take your pick.
    GRU is a victim of national and globalist UN-elected Illuminati self-interests. Don’t blame GRU, blame the partisan Dem locals elected with 3% of the population.

  • It isn’t until the imminent threat of loss of power that ‘leaders’ talk a lousy game.
    Far back as I can remember, city leaders have wasted the tax payers money generated through GRU.
    Ohhhh, we’ll do better they say. Each election cycle has the same ole shuck & jive.
    It is time that the control of GRU is placed in competent hands, not that of children.

  • Mayor Ward wants to ‘ask the people’ again because Clemons’ 2018 bill would have given the voters a choice in appointing a GRU board; Gainesville voters voted that down by almost 60%.

    That’s 5-years of high utilities and a near bankrupt GRU and Ward’s concern is the ‘taking the decision making away from the people?’

    Actually, not. In a representative democracy voters elect those to make the legislative decisions on behalf of their constituents. Local politicians argue they know better than the state what is best for its residents when the other party holds the political power at the state level.

    That, not the irresponsible financial deficiencies related to GRU, was what the city sold to Gainesville residents in 2018 to defeat Clemon’s bill.

    The problem here is the state’s initiative against Gainesville and GRU is bipartisan.

    The best Gainesville’s current commissar can hope for is a merciful transfer of GRU authority and a mandated return to basic math and bookkeeping principles.

  • Typical. The commissioners apparently didn’t read the proposal. TWO of the five oversight board member will be GRU customers! That’s 200% more representation than us county hostages get. And yes, I say hostage because we’ve been held hostage by the city and GRU for years with ZERO ability to vote fiscal responsibility. Instead, we continue to get hosed by a group of liberal elitists who want Gainesville to be on the world stage of environmentalism. That’s garbage. Just run our city and municipality like the small town that Gainesville actually is. We’re NOT New York, or L.A., or Chicago. But our crime rates are approaching those big cities. How about you let someone who CARES about reducing municipal debt take the wheel and YOU commissioners (if you keep your jobs) focus on making Gainesville safe again?

  • Without the failed Covid response by Dems (face diapers, standing 6 feet apart, making us stand out in the hot sun for an hour to buy groceries at Publix, putting restaurants at 25 percent capacity), the state government never would have had the political capital to come into Gainesville to take over GRU and potentially city government.

    They sat on the dais for a year giving the finger to Tallahassee, now they are on their knees pleading to stop. Give me a break.

    FACT: Republicans run Florida now – at least 60/40. Watching the commissioners cry scared now almost makes going through Covid worth it. Never thought I’d see the day when they pay the price for their awful decisions.

    • The science is out: face diapers don’t work. Only hypochondriacs, criminals who want to hide their faces from cameras, & leftist fascist Marxist one world government assholes wear them.
      No mandatory vaccines. No vaccine passports!

  • If anyone goes to Tallahassee next week to speak on behalf of the taxpayers, don’t forget to mention how 20-hour Saco not only flipped off city workers one time but said of public commenter Jo Beaty “And you’re supposed to be dead already. You’re a waste of air.” You can use the Chronicle’s search feature to find these. This is how your commissioners treat their beloved “neighbors”.

    • Before they got cooked by the JLAC, Ward also wouldn’t allow “the people” to speak at the meeting where they all voted to raise our rates.

  • Clemons, in another attempt to run Alachua County from Tallahassee – “party of small government”, my butt – wants another locality run by the Governor. The only way the GOP get’s anyone in office here is by his appointments. Gee, maybe it’s the guns/abortion/ and racist positions the party and DeSantis take, start there. Remember, if local control is destroyed, and that is clearly the governor’s and Clemon’s motis operandi,

    • (continuing) you may not like that when party power in Tallahassee changes. Gilliam was 30k votes away from being governor and nothing lasts forever. Are you for the state taking over local control, because clearly Clemons and DeSantis are.

      • Gilliam would have been a disaster…wasn’t he caught in a hotel room in Miami Beach with a male stripper doing meth?

        • Exactly. Now consider someone like him winning 4-8 years from now and shoving his people and edicts down the throats of local governments. That’s what you are celebrating.

      • The State of Florida will be red for at least an entire generation. It’s simple math with more and more red people moving here. It’s a solid Red state on par with Mississippi /Alabama now.

        I’m not worried about Democrat control AT ALL ! If your clinging to that hope keep dreaming 🙂

      • Instead he ended up, (maybe end up), in a south Florida hotel naked and with drugs.

        I’d say we did much, much better. Guessing it’s fairly easy to get your stance on drugs.

    • Jazzhole: Hanrahan ruined GRU.
      The state had to come in and take over the airport during her reign too. She stuck us with a bad 30 year contract and the city purchased the biomess plant. Now we have unaffordable utility rates and unsustainable debt. They have no F’ing idea how to run a city. We got crime, vagrants coming from everywhere to Grace
      Crapping up the city, drugs, violence, panhandlers in medians.
      Democrat leadership has been a disaster. The plan is to divide & conquer & implement great reset locally. They can shove that face mask & Vax passport up their you
      Know whats. The state needs to come in now & get the city back on track with police, fire, parks, & roads. The police need k9…

      • Sorry you give up on voting, but you’ll probably regret – I hope you do – getting the state government to run everything. Have you considered winning local elections instead?

  • ‘Just read the G’ville Sun/USA Today piece on this……..Feeding the fear frenzy being stirred by the city commission, the Sun equates Clemons’ bill with the Disney Reedy Creek issue because, to the dumb and dumber, Disney and Gainesville have so much in common such as net profits and the ability to fire those who underperform.

    Here, however, the Chronicle reports:

    Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut said, “The one critical point… is that GRU is owned by the people.” She asked the City Attorney whether the legislature “can take a core service that is owned by the people without a referendum.”

    Well, duh, where did Chestnut study government? Thankfully, the CA set her straight; her power and the power of the city commission is NOT absolute after all.

    And, Eastman laments, …”If we’re going to make a major change to this, the people should have a say.” Yeah, Eastman, what about the 40% of GRU customers who have been denied a ‘say?’

    Instead of taking a road trip to Tallahassee the commission might consider a self-imposed gag order and stop embarrassing itself and those they allegedly represent.

    The betting pool is now open; when will a commissioner publicly make a charge of racism in this matter?

    • No doubt Duke Energy will listen more closely to the wishes of county (and city) voters. It’s a citizen owned co-op, right?

      By the way, both Disney and Alachua County are victims of partisan power grabs based in Tallahassee, masquerading as good governance. Hey, but what could go wrong with having the governor running Disney, approving faculty hiring at a top 5 university, and appointing local DAs, school board members, and county commissioners? The GOP is for small government, right?

    • I’m sure they will charge 54.5 cents a mile round trip for their trip to Tally. Perhaps a hotel for a night or two. Of course, gotta charge their expense accounts for a nice dinner or two as well. Speaking of which, someone should FOIA the commissions expense accounts for the last 5 years.

      • Sure! Of course the main reason one might object to having local government controlled in Tallahassee is the traveling expenses.

  • Gainesville and GRU are wrecks because every city and every organization in America run by leftist cretins are wrecks. However, the idiots on the city commission cannot be fully blamed. Gainesville is largely populated with leftist idiots who empower the commissioners to go on wrecking GRU and the city. Eastman suddenly wants to hear the voice of “the people” because he knows that “the people” are mostly inept, pablum puking Marxist morons who couldn’t find their own butt cheeks with both hands. These halfwit UF graduates, brainwashed by simpleton Marxist professors, will support any harebrained scheme the commissioners advocate as long as it contradicts something Governor DeSantis or other Republicans advocate. Left wing Marxist idiots all have one thing in common — lack of common sense. What can you expect from deranged knuckleheads who aren’t even sure of what gender they are?


  • We just lost a superior GRU General Manager because of the commission’s poor leadership. That is reason enough alone. Throw in threatening to fire unvaccinated GRU employees, Saco shaking her middle finger at them, and much of the general fund transfer money being spent on useless woke garbage that nobody wants. There are plenty of reasons to keep the GRU cookie jar locked up and away from the woke children.


    I love how, the minute the city’s slush fund is challenged, it becomes about paying “police officers and fire fighters.” No one minds funding that. We mind funding the city’s pet projects like buying defunct properties (Mother’s Kitchen comes to mind), parks we can’t afford and plumping city salaries.

    GRU has an energy monopoly. County residents with no voting rights to elect city officials have to purchase electricity from GRU. Each year the city commission sucks millions from county residents’ pockets via the “transfer” mandated by the city from GRU, millions that are raised by overcharging customers for utilities so GRU can pay the city. This is taxation without representation. Apparently there was a whole war fought over that a few hundred years ago.

    I do want to add that GRU is a good energy company with really nice employees. But the rates are highway robbery compared to those in the rest of state because of the Gainesville City Commission.

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