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Clemons’ local bill that would put a governor-appointed board over GRU moves forward

Rep. Chuck Brannan, Rep. Chuck Clemons, and Sen. Jennifer Bradley listen to public input during the delegation meeting

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In an Alachua County Legislative Delegation meeting today in Tallahassee, the delegation voted 4-1, with Rep. Yvonne Hinson in dissent, to move forward with a proposed local bill that would create a board appointed by the governor to govern Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU).

In his opening remarks, Rep. Chuck Clemons, the sponsor of the local bill, compared the board to other statutorily-constructed boards such as Gainesville Alachua County Regional Airport Authority and the Children’s Trust Board. He said the legislature has authority under Article 3, Section 10 of the Florida Constitution to pass Special Acts by following a process that includes notice of the proposed law 30 days before it is filed. That notice was first published on March 9, so the actual bill will be filed on April 10. Notice is not required if the Special Act requires a successful referendum before becoming a law, but Clemons emphasized, “This is not a referendum.”

Clemons also said that public hearings are not required for Special Acts, but he thinks holding a hearing is a good practice. He continued, “What we have known is that the governance of GRU by the City [of Gainesville] has been in some sort of peril for several years, with a myriad of issues–we’re not here to place blame today on anyone; the delegation members have to manage the situation.” Reviewing the history, Clemons said that he and Senator Keith Perry had requested an audit of the City in 2019, and they only recently received the report of the audit, which was heard by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) on February 23.

“The legislature has the authority and retains the authority to represent the best interests of the citizens by deciding local issues by Special Act if we have to, and we would be derelict if we didn’t exercise our constitutional and statutory authority to correct, or help to correct, decade-long problems when they get worse by being ignored.”- Rep. Chuck Clemons

Clemons said, “I want to reiterate–we’re the state elected officials from Alachua County and its municipalities… We’re not outsiders… We’re observers, we’re residents, we’re taxpayers, and we’re elected officials for the State of Florida. The City of Gainesville and Alachua County are subdivisions of the State of Florida.” Clemons said the legislature has taken away the charter of two cities during his seven years as a representative. “So it’s not on an equal plane… The legislature has the authority and retains the authority to represent the best interests of the citizens by deciding local issues by Special Act if we have to, and we would be derelict if we didn’t exercise our constitutional and statutory authority to correct, or help to correct, decade-long problems when they get worse by being ignored.”

Clemons said there was a “strong likelihood that a new board appointed by the governor would be more responsive to GRU customers that reside outside of the city limits–currently 40% of all of the users of the utility do not have a voice.” He promised that the bill would require one member of the five-member board to be a GRU customer living outside the city limits; he also emphasized that this person would, therefore, “live locally.” 

Clemons said he hoped the Special Act would help reverse “the decline and the disastrous chart” the City is on. 

Provisions of the bill

The proposed bill will establish the powers and the duties of the board and set the term limits and qualifications of the members, who will have staggered terms. One member will be a residential customer “with substantial knowledge of GRU, its operations, and its history”; at least one member will be a private, non-governmental customer of GRU that consumes at least 10,000 kWh per month during each of the previous 12 months; three members will be “competent and knowledgeable” in one or more of a list of technical and financial fields. The board members will have no salaries. The bill will also provide a means for removing and suspending board members for cause and “provides for the continued service of GRU personnel.”

Mayor Harvey Ward

“Candidly, anyone who gets service from GRU has pretty direct access to the Gainesville City Commission. I don’t go to Publix or Lowe’s or church or to pick my kids up from school, without somebody talking to me about the job… We’re readily accessible, and I have never once said, in the checkout line of Publix, ‘Do you live in the city of Gainesville?’ when someone asks a question.” – Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward

Clemons gave Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward “the first bite at the apple” when the discussion moved to the public. Ward said he takes this “certainly in the terms as you’ve described it, an opportunity to help the people of Gainesville.” He said he wants GRU to continue to provide “great service, locally-owned, locally-controlled,” to its customers. He corrected Clemons, saying 31% of electric customers live outside the city limits; about 40% of gas customers live outside the city, 37% of water customers, and 36% of wastewater customers. Ward said, “Candidly, anyone who gets service from GRU has pretty direct access to the Gainesville City Commission. I don’t go to Publix or Lowe’s or church or to pick my kids up from school, without somebody talking to me about the job… We’re readily accessible, and I have never once said, in the checkout line of Publix, ‘Do you live in the city of Gainesville?’ when someone asks a question.” He said the City is working “assiduously” with JLAC to make “the bold moves that we expect to make for JLAC.”

Ward said he is only one vote on the City Commission but expects that the General Fund Transfer (GFT) from GRU to General Government this year will be no more than one-third “of what it has been in past years. I might not even vote for that much.” He said the City is working on a formula for the GFT that will resemble a franchise fee paid by an investor-owned utility. “I would happily work with you all to place a good formula in our Charter to say, ‘The transfer may not exceed this.'” Ward said residents should be able “to come to someone who they can hire or fire the following November. I think that’s important.” City Commissioners serve four-year terms, with a two-term limit. Ward said, “The people are in charge of the board. The people get to pick who runs it.” He said the uncertainty of this bill makes it difficult for the City Commission and City and GRU staff to make long-term decisions.

In response to a question from Clemons, Ward said the GFT last year was “likely” more than the profit of the utility. Ward said he voted “two and a half years ago, maybe three years ago, to start plowing [the GFT] down by $2 million a year; that’s not enough.” He later said he “signed off on that in ’19 or ’20.” However, the City Commission took that vote in July of 2021, with the cuts beginning in Fiscal Year 2022. The current year’s budget reflects the second reduction under that resolution. 

“The idea that you would take one dollar more than the profits of the GRU, one dollar, is wrong… Let’s get it down to zero excess over the profits of the GRU. That I haven’t heard from you yet.” – Rep. Mike Caruso, Co-Chair of JLAC

Rep. Mike Caruso, who is not a member of the local delegation but chairs JLAC, said Ward “indicated that it’s locally-controlled, locally-owned, and decisions are locally made, but 40% of the GRU’s customers don’t own it, don’t control it, and don’t get to decide what decisions are made. They get no say in that. And so I think that comment is just off-base.” He repeated a finding from the Auditor General’s report, that the City took $68 million more than its earnings from GRU over the past four years: “The idea that you would take one dollar more than the profits of the GRU, one dollar, is wrong… Let’s get it down to zero excess over the profits of the GRU. That I haven’t heard from you yet.”

Ward said his intent is for the transfer this year to be “probably south of $10 million; it’s currently $34 [million]. Those are the kind of bold moves that I am interested in. I can’t speak for the other six members of the City Commission… I’m willing to entertain zero.” 

Ward again said he wanted to work with JLAC on a formula for GFT to go in the City Charter, but Caruso said they didn’t need a “fancy formula”–it should be limited to the profits of GRU.

Hinson proposed that the legislature consider annexing the people who receive services from GRU into the City of Gainesville “or allow the 40% to have a referendum about staying or leaving… Because they can leave, too. They have options.” She also asked whether GRU could sell GRUCom; Ward said that the Charter requires a voter referendum to sell “any substantial business unit of the utility.” 

Public comment

During public comment, six people spoke in support of the local bill, while 13 people opposed it, with another two people indicating their opposition without speaking.

Jim Konish said that it will take 40-60 years to pay down GRU’s $1.7 billion debt, even if the City takes “no GFT at all.” 

Senator Tracie Davis, who is a member of JLAC, admitted near the end of her statement that she misunderstood which bill was being discussed; she thought she was speaking to SB1380, which would place municipal utilities that serve customers outside the municipal boundary under the authority of the Public Service Commission; she criticized SB1380 as a “one-size-fits-all” measure. She said her electric service is from JEA, which is the largest municipal utility in Florida. JEA is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The Board of Directors appoints a CEO who then selects the top tier of management. 

Clemons pointed out that a “well-run utility” typically has about 60% equity and 40% debt, while GRU has about 14% equity and 86% debt, and asked if that information had surprised her. She said, “Yes… Don’t be afraid of a board, because that’s what we have in Jacksonville. We have an appointed board.” She said the headlines about JEA being sold did not come from the board, “so don’t be afraid of a board; don’t be afraid of your board controlling your municipal electric. It works.”

Hinson said, “I am afraid” and asked Davis about the federal indictments of JEA executives: “How was that resolved, and how can that possibly be a replica of success?”

Davis said that “was a behind-the-scenes, orchestrated event by the Mayor at the time” and that they resolved it with a ballot referendum that said JEA could not be sold without a vote of the people.

Former Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren said, “That purchase of the biomass plant was the best thing we did. I am upset with seeing some of the things that are going on here in Tallahassee that are distractions of the real problem, and that is that we are in a climate emergency, and what are you guys doing to help us with our infrastructure needed there?”

Susan Bottcher suggested that since GRU customers outside the city limits are complaining about taxation without representation, “what you could do, is you could put an amendment on this bill that would address– it’s Florida Statute 171.0413, Annexation Procedures. Right now, the only way for properties to be annexed into the city is through voluntary annexation or through a voter referendum. So I would suggest that you change this to automatically annex anyone who is in the GRU service area into the city limits. This would give them a voice because they’d be City residents and would be able to vote in City elections. It would remove the GRU surcharge; their utility bills would automatically go down, as soon as they’re in the city limits. It would increase our tax base because right now, in the City of Gainesville, 60% of the properties are off the tax rolls… That’s why the GFT is so important.” She said “to really make this annexation amendment powerful,” the legislature should give the people who would be annexed a vote on Clemons’ bill in a referendum.

Delegation debate

Following public comment, Clemons made a motion to move forward with the local bill. The bill will be officially filed on April 10, and then there will be one or two committee meetings at which members of the public can speak; the bill can be amended at that time. A vote will then be taken on the House floor, then it will go to the governor for his signature. 

Hinson said she wanted to reiterate that JLAC and the City have made an agreement with a timeline through October 1, “and I think we owe Floridians, our citizens, our commissioners, our elected officials, GRU, the opportunity to fulfill the request of JLAC. Without doing that, I think we’re not operating in good faith.”

“I don’t know that an independent board will save GRU, I really don’t… The debt, it is unsustainable. I don’t know that this will solve the problem, but I do know that we’ve got to try something.” – Sen. Keith Perry

Perry said he expected another ratings downgrade for GRU, “and I expect the reason we’re not on junk bond status right now is because the City Commission continues to raise rates and pay off that debt.” He said he thought GRU went “sideways” when the City Commission decided to enter into Power Purchase Agreements instead of building plants. He pointed out that an Integrated Resource Plan published by GRU in 2019 projects an increase in debt regardless of whether the utility aggressively pursues renewable energy or not. Perry said, “I don’t know that an independent board will save GRU, I really don’t… The debt, it is unsustainable. I don’t know that this will solve the problem, but I do know that we’ve got to try something… This is an untenable direction that we’re going… It will change the power structure; I ask my colleagues to vote in support of this.”

“There has been outcry over GRU for many years… and the response is continued transfers; a huge, expensive solar contract that’s being negotiated with the rates redacted; and the situation is not improving, and I look forward to exploring solutions. I think this could be a viable solution.” – Sen. Jennifer Bradley

Senator Jennifer Bradley reminded everyone that “We’re at the beginning of a process… As the bill moves through, there will be a committee meeting. There are other opportunities to be heard as we go through this process. There has been outcry over GRU for many years… and the response is continued transfers; a huge, expensive solar contract that’s being negotiated with the rates redacted; and the situation is not improving, and I look forward to exploring solutions. I think this could be a viable solution.”

Clemons closed by saying, “This is not about the JLAC… This is about the long-term stability of the people’s utility.” He said that although everyone has strong feelings, people should “allow this process to work… It’s going to be probably amended.” He said he looked forward to working with everyone “to make sure that 30 years from now, Gainesville Regional Utilities is still owned by the people it serves.”

The delegation voted 4-1 to move forward with the bill, with Rep. Hinson in dissent.

The City of Gainesville issued a press release urging citizens to oppose the bill.

  • Automatically annex anyone who is in the GRU service area into the city limits? So with high utility bills we get high property taxes as well? Hell No!

    • Exactly!!!!! There is NO way I want to be in the City Limits. This is the best thing that can happen. Thank you Rep. Clemons and Sen. Perry

  • Can you believe this STUPID WOMAN? “Former Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren said, “That purchase of the biomass plant was the best thing we did. I am upset with seeing some of the things that are going on here in Tallahassee that are distractions of the real problem, and that is that we are in a climate emergency, and what are you guys doing to help us with our infrastructure needed there?”
    “Best thing”? NO.
    “Climate emergency?” NO
    Such stupidity is infuriating in someone that is elected to be responsible for other peoples’ money.

    • I think they heard all they needed to hear when Warren spoke – the future of the regional utility cannot be entrusted to the type of loons we have every few years on the city commission. We already have at least two right now, the two masked woke ninjas. Three if you count Eastman. Depending on the issue, Ward makes four.

      • How come former mayor Pegeen Hanrahan ain’t around to defend her Kyoto proto biomass deal & 30 year purchase agreement? It was supposed to be so good for all of us and turned out to be the worst thing to ever happen to GNV… now we need new city leadership and the State is taking GRU. Democrat leadership has been a disaster.

    • We’ll actually, when she/Warren said “purchase” of the biomass plant that was to get us OUT of the remaining 26 years on the ridiculous GREC PPA biomass contract, signing that was the dumbest thing ever in the entire state! Buying the plant saved us between $30 and $45 million annually depending on how much we used it and the cost of alternative fuels for the other plants (coal and nat gas). Here’s my pre-purchase evaluation report

      https://www.gainesvillefl.gov/files/assets/public/city-auditor/documents/170010-proposed-grec-asset-purchase-agreement-eval-20170518.pdf.

      Warren wasn’t there for the initial PPA contract of 30 years (last serving nut to sign that was Lauren Poe as a Commissioner). Warren was there and did vote to buy the plant out, which was a good deal. Climate emergency for anything? Of course not. What a democratic farce. It’s been 3 years since most of the climate nuts said the earth only had 7 years left if we didn’t drastically reduce course. That’s plain stupid. History will clearly show how wrong this whole mess has been. In 1,000 years, the earth will still be here with plenty of human inhabitants. Scientists agree Mega mammals were destroyed by the earth getting hotter, as it does in cycles caused by the sun (ice age too). There were no cars or factories to blame then. It’s a huge lie!

      • I think we can safely assume that she would have voted for the biomass plant the first time around, had she been on the commission at that point. I remember the time she proposed allowing Amazon trucks to deliver only one day a week to save energy, as if a whole week’s worth of packages could be stuffed into a truck and delivered all in one day. Everybody overlooks the fact that 100+ diesel-burning and polluting semi trucks are picking up and dropping off the wood for the biomass plant to burn every day. It’s far from “carbon zero.” Personally, I would have turned off the biomass plant and spent years in court arguing that the contract was deceptive before ever paying a penny. Every year that goes by, it’s becoming more and more obvious that biomass is not the wave of the future.

  • Ward: “has direct access to the GNV City Commission” …what a farce and an insult! A city commission that has not listened since Lauren Poe took office and has spent us into bankruptcy via Poe’s ignorant stooges, including Ward. Move it forward!

  • Sure they want to annex every customer into the city of Gainesville they going to need the tax base to continue their left wing woke ideology when GRU cash cow drys up.
    Thank you, representative Clemens and Senator Perry

  • 13 paid activists made the trip to attend the meeting! Of course their arguments against the Appointed GRU Board were aimed at scaring citizens with negative rhetoric, “Annex all those complaining,” “climate emergency!”

    Hinson’s suggestion to let those who are outside the city to leave GRU was actually a favorable suggestion, but certainly would add to the budget woes of the City and GRU when the lost revenue has to be made up somewhere! Instead of a 7% GRU increase, the remaining customers might see a 20% rate increase!

    Come on Springs County!

  • Our former City Commissioners certainly prove how clueless they are whenever they open their mouths. One wants to annex everyone into a City that wants to get rid of single family zoning and put 10 story monstrosities in the middle of single family neighborhoods, no thank you. Another thinks that adding almost a billion dollar in debt for a used wood burner is the best thing she ever did must not have accomplished much during her tenure. The best suggestion by the third one is to “allow the 40% to have a referendum about staying or leaving”. I doubt she’ll like the outcome. Then you have our new Mayor who claims he gets his input from citizens when he goes shopping at Publix? Is that the only way someone can talk to this guy is by stalking him at the grocery store? He certainly has done everything he can to avoid talking to citizens during City Commission meetings.

    • Wouldn’t annexing also exchange ASO for a defanged GPD? By the time they showed up on their climate-friendly electric scooters it would be too late.

    • I don’t believe Ward shops at Publix. He intentionally avoids public places his private security farce can’t protect him from the commoners.

      He may order Instacart, but that’s probably as close as he gets to one. Especially considering his hiding behind skirts and masks during Covid.

    • Poe always looked like he was trying to keep moving because he was afraid someone was after him. Not sure about Ward. Chestnut is not unapproachable out in public.

  • Stop the green energy madness. It is not sustainable. How many trees will they cut down to create their solar panel field, how much energy has been produced by the biomass plant?

  • Gainesville is doomed. They can only be saved by either annexing the suburbs (the county’s golden goose, so the county gov’t loses revenue); by expanding GRU to the entire county (impossible); or attracting a huge new industry to compete with UF for workers, pay taxes and live in the city limits (when there’s not enough housing).

  • Referendums don’t mean anything when a tiny percent vote, and almost all of those have a self-interest in keeping the status quo: gov’t workers, unions, NGO contractors, criminal and civil lawyers, pawn shops, drug dealers…

  • Clemons failed to mention one thing that has led the delegation to this point… we’re all victims as well.

    We’ve been victims of the City Commission and it’s ruler the Mayor for a long time. Too long.

    It’s time to stop being the victim.

  • Wimpy Ward is delusional (as usual).
    The city can’t pass an audit and he audaciously claims to balance the budget this year without grifting GRU.
    The lone dissent on this vote was a drone rat representing another district who used to live here 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • The annexation ploy is just that — a red herring to distract from the matter at hand, which is a hideously microgoverned utility. So badly governed that Mr. Perry is correct that its finances qualify as junk bonds. Which means capital (money) to fix it won’t come from investors elsewhere but comes from local taxpayers.

    County representation on the governing board as proposed by Mr. Clemons is important. Whether using his figure of 40 percent or Mr. Ward’s lesser numbers, proportional representation from the county should give it two members on the board, not just one.

  • Looks like Harvey & his Commission of Clowns will have to find another teat to suck on.

    Doesn’t hurt to hope.

  • Please get us out of this liberal lunacy. Clemens & Perry please help us and push this through so we can have a voice and actions that make sense.

    • Why don’t you try winning local elections for a change, or move to Lake City. It’s like Gainesville without the liberals and you should like that.

      • We did win Single Member Districts and the liberal lunatics didn’t like the outcome. It may be a start.

        • You won it by a hair with a last minute lying campaign claiming the NAACP and it’s local leaders supported single member districts. That was absolutely false and included ads and a billboard on the corner of NE 39th Ave and Waldo Road. The single member district idea was shot down in recent memory in a fair election. Cheating at the local polls and appointments by Uber Gubernor DeSantis is the only way you “win” here.

          By the way, about 75% of Florida counties DO NOT HAVE single member districts but somehow Democratic majority Alachau County was alone targeted. It was another purely partisan coup by the traitors Clemons and Perry. They don’t care about Alachua County, they care about the GOP and their master in Tallahassee.

          • Point is – it was won. You liberal clowns like throwing things until it gets thrown back.
            Rodney Long did support it until it became a threat to their rule. Local leadership is threatened because they won’t have the high population center to control other outlying less populated areas. Remind us why the Federal Senate is based on 2 Senators from each state.
            You sound like you enjoy the Draconian rule of government deciding what’s best for you. Why worry about DeSantis allowing parents to make decisions and have them have conversations with their children instead of many liberal teachers who want to infuse their beliefs?

          • Dude, we can argue the merits of single member districts all day long and I’m not sure where I would end up, but this is not about principles, anymore than the Governor’s attack on Disney was about special districts (see The Villages), it’s about partisanship, Given most Florida counties are not single member, I wonder why Clemons and the legislature want it for Alachua County. Hmmmmmmm.

            This was on the ballot recently here without the last minute GOP lies targeting black voters – gee, that sounds like the 2 Enneking races – and was shot down. Clemons doesn’t care about Alachua County, he cares about the GOP.

          • It’s a case of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Highest electric rates, absurdly high commercial electric rates, crime and homelessness way up, almost $3 billion of unsustainable debt, city and county can’t find nearly enough workers because the area sucks so bad, teachers are all quitting because there is no discipline in schools, no businesses want to open here, masked woke children on the commission who will only work part-time, and lots of other problems. Only in a deranged “We are in a climate emergency!” mind are we not in need of serious help. DeSantis is like our long-awaited Moses, delivering us from our oppressors.

          • Maybe your savior should focus on what governors are supposed to do and leave it to local governments to do well or screw up and then face the voters as they are supposed to do in a democracy. You think DeSantis appointees will represent citizens? So far the voters have kicked them out, but this board will have no elections. Mussolini made the trains run on time, but DeSantis thinks his job is cursing out the president everyday – you know the guy who’s government keeps sending Florida checks – running for president, and bullying anyone who dares disagree with him in public.

          • Thank goodness someone is stepping in to correct the ongoing financial malfeasance and incompetence. Much like the one-eyed man crying about getting torn up by the police dog, none of this would be happening if the city had done things correctly in the first place. We had multiple DEI gurus, the Department of Doing, etc., but no CPAs, and this is the end result. Consequences – that’s how things operate in the real world, outside the backwards, no-standards land of Gangsville. Knock yourself out crying about it.

          • You mean the President who still has thousands crossing the border or the one who wants to forgive college students’ education loans? That’s right, he’s the same guy. If DeSantis runs for president, Biden won’t remember anything DeSantis said anyway.

            Yeah, those you’ve pledged fealty to sure listened to their constituents when they voted to change the zoning for residential areas didn’t they?

          • Dude, the election produced a new majority on the city commission opposed to the zoning changes and intends to reverse it. That’s how it works in a democracy. Clemons and Perry, in a another back stab, is taking away that option for city voters, you know the ones who never vote for them.

          • Okay Snowman…consider yourself snowed.

            Keep the faith. Many of us do.

          • Whatever that means, but I accept your surrender on the facts of the zoning facts.

          • Not your facts, just your misinterpretation. The same liberal lunatics control the city – that’s a fact Jack! Keep trying though.
            It’s nice to see when someone has been so thoroughly indoctrinated they aren’t able to see the forest through the trees.

            Good thing today was the first day of Spring, maybe you’ll see through the blizzard.

          • I don’t remember it ever having been on the ballot. The handpicked Charter Review Commission(?) has conveniently ensured such initiatives that didn’t align with their ideologies never made it to the ballot.

          • He obviously cares about the happenings in Alachua County more than you do given your continued promotion for Enneking and every other progressive democrat.

            If it makes you happy, local leadership is looking to get it on the ballot again. It was just voted for and approved…why put it back on the ballot?

  • See… NOW something is getting done. Exit stage left for the irresponsible climate/grace loons. Time for the adults in the room to fix it.

  • More back stabbing of Gainesville and Alachua County by the traitors Clemons and Perry, both of whom, without dark money and stealth candidates would have lost to Dr. Enneking. The only way the GOP figures to get people in local office here is through another hostile takeover by the governor. We’ve had his school board choice, his County Comm choice – both turned out by voters – and now he gets to rule Gainesville’s biggest asset. Clemons and Perry both voted for an education bill last year which punished our county schools because the board chose to pursue it’s legal options in regard to mask wearing – supported at that time in the pandemic by UF, which, you know, lives hear, and you know, has scientists and stuff.

    Losers. Getting Daddy state government to get even with local winners.

    • PS Do you all understand that the precedents DeSantis and the GOP in this state are setting regarding taking control away from local governments – and that is an undeniable pattern in multiple pieces of legislation – and even businesses (see DIsney, who’s CEO made the mistake of criticizing state legislation) will not always work for your interests. A Democratic governor telling Newberry what it can and can’t do, removing DAs in Escambia County, and stripping The Villages of it’s special district governance and putting a retired Elizabeth Warren on the Board – how’s that sound? Like it? Thinks that how democracy should work? How could you argue against it if you support the crap coming out of Tallahassee from the GOP and DeSantis?

      • This sounds like more silver-tongued hysteria such as Bryan Eastman produces on a daily basis for his PAC. BS Man would be more fitting.

  • Biomass Hinson should not be allowed on this delegation. She’s a plant for COG, evidently is clueless and prejudice as always and certainly does not speak for the majority Gainesville Citizens. It seems she wants to obstruct justice.

  • Th wonders of bizarre that an elected leader who champions “limited government” is actually seeking to grow the government.

    • Hey, he forced a business to take on an appointed government board by getting legislation passed, and all because the business CEO said things he didn’t like. That’s an indisputable fact and tells you all you need to know about DeSantis, the Florida GOP, and how they like to force people to do what they want …… because they can. Of course if Disney didn’t care more about making money then principles, they’d take his sorry hypocritical carcass to court, and would win. They do care more about money though, and are just eating it and staying quiet. Profiles in cowardice.

      • He’s saving a longtime Florida institution from leftist cancer. It depends on how you look at it. Thank goodness we don’t have meth-smoking, male-escort-lovin’ Democrat Andrew Gillum in the governor’s mansion. Or Charley Crisp. Elections have consequences, so deal with it.

        • Yeah, because we expect the governor to decide what businesses need help and then try to take them over. Your problem is that special districts were not on anyone’s agenda, but punishing Disney because the CEO exercised his 1st amendment rights to criticize legislation was. That is what this was about and that’s an irrefutable fact. If you don’t think so, maybe you can produce some quotes from DeSantis or anyone in the state GOP discussing what a problem special districts were, and specifically Disney’s, prior to the CEO’s statement.

          You can’t, they don’t exist. Face facts.

          • Disney needs to be taken to the woodshed for what they did to Star Wars, among other things. They no longer deserve any special considerations or tax breaks. All DeSantis is doing is REMOVING the prior government interference in the business world. Why should the government rig things for Disney? Glad that’s finally over.

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