Gainesville Sun’s Biomass Cover-Up

– by Karen Orr, January 5, 2013, Energy Justice Network

One of the tragedies of life in Gainesville, Florida is that there is so little reality based journalism. In today’s SUN, editorial page editor Ron Cunningham continues the newspaper’s disinformation campaign on the city’s Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) boondoggle. Cunningham rewrites history when he states: “I just wish they had been here hotly debating that issue three, four or even five years ago, when it might have made a difference.”

Cunningham knows citizens strongly and publicly opposed the tree burning incinerator plan three, four and even eight years ago. Maybe more. The Gainesville city commissioners were well aware of the bad environmental consequences a biomass incinerator would have on North Florida. Alachua County citizens told them so over and over.

2005 example: “GRU’s Developer Welfare Plan” – the first published article on the city commission’s biomass discussion that I’m aware of. But there weren’t nearly as many citizens back in the day opposing the biomass debacle as there are now. That’s because the public at large was the victim of The Gainesville SUN’s cover-up of this story that would have informed them of the impending biomass disaster.

The SUN kept the public in the dark as former Gainesville mayor Pegeen Hanrahan’s plan played out at City Hall. Only after the SUN considered the city’s GREC boondoggle to be “a done deal,” and a citizen lawsuit unveiled the biomass rate hike buried in the secret contract, did the newspaper begin reporting on the tree burning electricity generator in any meaningful way. Not only did the SUN news editors hide the story as its’ details unfolded at City Hall, SUN editorial page editor Cunningham refused to publish some of the columns that would have alerted SUN readers to what could be in store should the biomass boondoggle go forward.

One important piece Cunningham refused to let see the light of day on the SUN’s editorial page was former Gainesville mayor, Tom Bussing’s  “The Shell Game: Gainesville is Giving Away Its Energy Future.” On December 21, 2009 James Maloy of Gretna, Florida wrote: “Since the Gainesville Sun editorial page Editor, Ron Cunningham has refused to publish this column by former Gainesville Mayor Tom Bussing, we offer this information to the visitors of this website with thanks to Mr. Bussing for sharing his opinion with the citizens of Florida who depend on the media and government officials to defend their best interests.”

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