Taylor Anderson produced this update.
Taylor Anderson produced this update.
A new survey has been approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to collect data from anglers in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf Reef Fish Survey was created to gather information from recreational fisherman about which reef fish species they catch, according to Beverly Sauls, associate research scientist for FWC.
Species include: red snapper, vermilion snapper, black and red grouper, gag, gray triggerfish, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, greater amberjack and less amberjack.
Sauls said researchers have good information on the numbers of people who purchase fishing licenses and participate in saltwater recreational fishing across the state. But this information does not include how many people fish for each of the particular species targeted in the survey.
Researchers are looking to find trends in the number of people fishing from private boats, trips taken, and the number and size of the fish caught.
Private boats are the largest and most difficult division to collect data from, with about three million recreational fishing trips made by private boats in the Gulf of Mexico in the past year alone, according to the FWC website.
Mike Goldschlag, 31, a local fisherman who uses the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee, said it is important to monitor fish, but disagrees with the survey’s focus. He would like to see the study examine inshore species of fish having difficulties, like sea trout and redfish.
“The bountiful scallop season is clouding the fact that for months even local guides were questioning what had happened to the sea trout who were gone for much of the spring season,” Goldschlag said.
The survey is funded by the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund as part of the project titled Enhanced Assessment for Recovery of Gulf of Mexico Fisheries.
If the funding for the program continues, researchers expect the survey to be extended by five years, Sauls said.
Seven to 10 percent of anglers will receive the survey each month through a questionnaire in the mail.
So far, researchers have received 25 percent participation in the first month of the mailing surveys.
For researchers, this is a good start. A successful rate for mail surveys is usually about 30 to 40 percent, according to Sauls.
“We still encourage as many people as possible to return the questionnaires for the best results,” Sauls said.
Results from the program are not expected until after the first year of the survey, according to Sauls.
Timothy Meng, 52, an entrepreneur and local fisherman, said he received an email to participate, but that it seemed voluntary.
Meng, who took his 22-foot Andros Bonefish out fishing a couple weeks back, thinks it is beneficial for reputable sources to collect populations and quotas. He cautions that self-reported data may not be the best science.
For Jesus Martinez, being plugged into the Gainesville art community is not only how he expresses himself, but also how he wants others to experience his CrossFit gym.
Martinez is owner of Visionary CrossFit, a combination of a CrossFit gym and a visionary art gallery that displays what he describes as trippy and psychedelic art.
It’s often overlooked and not as common as other forms of art in Gainesville, which is why he wanted to be part of the 352ArtsRoadmap Cultural Plan, he said.
The plan, adopted Thursday by the City of Gainesville for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, will hopefully give Martinez and other local artists more opportunities to work together and participate in the city’s art scene.
The plan aims to promote Gainesville’s arts community and enhance its cultural programs and facilities.
The department will create a 352 Arts and Cultural Council of art and community leaders to help implement the plan. It will also continue developing a website to serve as a central arts calendar and directory.
After a yearlong process of input through focus groups, community dialogue and an online survey, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department was able to build a new 10-year cultural plan, said Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager for the department.
Etling said Gainesville and Alachua County have a host of world-class institutions like the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art and the Florida Museum of Natural History, in addition to well-known artists and musicians.
Input from 3,197 stakeholders pointed toward a lack of coordination between those local artists, musicians and institutions.
“The community was looking for a facilitator to bring the arts world together, to help it communicate with each other and with other sectors of the community and then to promote it more,” Etling said. “A strong arts community attracts new business to the community. It attracts more visitors, encourages business to relocate here, and, above all things, it improves our quality of life.”
Money to implement the plan came from the State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs; Visit Gainesville; the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning; and Mataraza Consulting, according to Etling.
Linda Blondheim is another artist who will be part of the directory. A landscape painter in Gainesville since the 1970s, she has noticed a lack of communication among artists and common goals in the community.
“Even some smaller cities have good art centers and better accommodations for the art community, so I certainly think we need something county-wide,” Blondheim said.
Laura Barrero produced this update.
Ryan Roberts produced this update.
Co-founder of Grooveshark Josh Greenberg was found dead on Sunday.
Greenberg, 28, was found by his girlfriend, Abby Mayer, in their bed, said Officer Ben Tobias, Gainesville Police Department spokesperson.
Investigators did not find any evidence of foul play or trauma, Tobias wrote in an email.
He said an autopsy was conducted today by the medical examiner’s office and they found no obvious cause of death. The toxicology results will take six-to-eight weeks to be completed.
Grooveshark was a successful web-based music streaming service founded by Greenberg and Sam Tarantino in 2006, both undergraduates at the University of Florida. In April 2015 the company announced it would shut down immediately as part of a settlement on copyright infringement lawsuits.
Friends of Greenberg are paying tribute by posting on social media, sharing memories about Greenberg and his significance to the Gainesville community.
Florida Democrats used the hashtag #TakeItDown last week in a tweet about Marion County’s decision to fly the Confederate flag at the McPherson Governmental Complex.
The tweet, which came from the Florida Party’s official Twitter account on July 16, contained a picture of the flag above the complex , along with text reading, “RT (retweet) to tell them to take it down #TakeItDown!” It also included a link to a Palm Beach Post article chronicling the events.
Max Steele, press secretary for the Florida Democratic Party, said now is the time for the flag to be removed.
“The time has passed,” Steele said. “We’re one nation, one country.”
Following the church tragedy in Charleston, S.C., the flag had been temporarily removed in June. However, Marion County Commissioners voted on July 7, to put the flag back up.
Diane Perrine of Dunnellon, Fla., created a petition two days later, asking for the removal of the flag. In her petition, she said the government represents all of their citizens and if some don’t want the flag to be flown, then it should be removed.
Perrine’s petition currently has 124 signatures.
“We aren’t erasing history, it’s important to know our history, but this [flag] is not a symbol of the United States, and it’s not a symbol that belongs on government property,” Steele said.
The flag’s cultural significance has changed with society, he said. Now, it can’t be separated from a symbol of hate.
Steele said the Confederate flag is a divisive symbol, and feels President Obama was right when he said the flag belongs in a museum.
Melissa Seice, an Ocala resident, feels the flag represents “pride, culture and history.”
“My personal opinion is the flag is a part of history and if everyone is so worried about keeping history the way it should be, then why take away part of history,” Seice said.
For Seice and her family, the flag represents who they are and what they stand for.
Seice has no problem defending what she believes in and has posted on her Facebook page her disapproval regarding the removal of the Confederate flag.
“I’m not afraid to tell anybody,” Seice said. “That is what I represent, and I’m not afraid to defend that.”
The Marion County Commission is waiting to receive recommendations for the future location of the display and the proper course of action, according to a press release by Marion County Board of County Commissioners.
Negotiations between the University of Florida Board of Trustees and faculty representatives moved forward Thursday after a half-percent increase to the pay-raise offer, although additional progress has been deferred until later this month.
The University’s current offer stands at 2.5 percent. Faculty representatives, however, are not yet satisfied.
Lead negotiator John Biro said the collective bargaining unit, which represents about 1,600 faculty members, will not settle until the university’s counter-offer is closer to the initial request of a 6.5-percent raise. This figure, Biro explained, comprises a 2-percent merit-based raise and a 4-percent general salary increase.
Biro, a UF philosophy professor, said the unit is particularly adamant about reaching a deal they consider fair because faculty went without raises between 2011 and 2013.
Bill Connellan, head of labor relations for the university, attributes this pay-raise freeze to the economic downturn during that period, colloquially known as the Great Recession.
“Whether it was a result of the recession or not, I won’t speculate. In any event, we went without raises for a number of years,” Biro said. “And it can no longer be justified.”
Connellan maintains that the university’s current offer of 2.5 percent is competitive, but Biro disagrees.
“Historically, Florida has not funded higher education the way it should be, especially not in comparison to other states,” he said. “But at least when you’re making intrastate comparisons, with the likes of FSU, you shouldn’t be lagging behind.”
The UFF body at FSU has reached an agreement to be ratified in August calling for a 1.75 percent cost-of-living adjustment for faculty, a pool of money that will give an average $3,600 “market equity adjustment” to 550 faculty members and promotion increases of 12 percent to associate professor level and 15 percent to full professor level.
Connellan said the university must consider various factors when debating pay raises. Faculty salaries at other institutions are just one factor. Cost of living and inflation are part of the equation, too.
Connellan said UF faculty salaries have kept pace with inflation.
The UF chapter of the faculty union has posted salary comparisons on its website looking at faculty salaries at UF and 10 peer institutions, as designated by the Office of Institutional Planning and Research.
In each level of tenure/tenure-track faculty, UF is at the bottom of faculty compensation—coming in last for assistant/associate professors and third from last for full professors.
And in most cases even factoring in cost-of-living adjustments, UF remains at the bottom. For example, an assistant professor making the average salary at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor ($89,600) would need to make about $10,000 more than UF’s average $76,200 salary to maintain her quality of living, based on the cost-of-living calculator provided online by CNN Money.
The call for salary increases is not motivated solely by self-interest but by a necessity to retain talented faculty, as well, Biro said.
“Other institutions offer our best faculty more than UF does. Unless there is some personal reason why somebody can’t move, those attractive offers obviously lead to our best faculty going elsewhere.”
Former UF philosophy professor David Copp is one example.
In 2009, Copp left for University of California, Davis, because he felt dissatisfied at the lack of transparency in UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“I found the administration to be very untrustworthy,” he said.
According to Copp, he was recruited to UF by the then-dean of the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Copp said, the dean promised in writing that, among other things, the philosophy department would have the resources to hire faculty and host conferences.
Copp said those promises were never kept, adding that he believed during his years at UF the university prioritized its athletic program over academic values.
WUFT News could not obtain a comprehensive list of faculty departures to verify reasons for leaving the university.
Biro said he hopes that both sides will come to an agreement when they meet again on July 30.