Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

Be Informed.


sierra club logo50 In: FLASH MOB TOLL ROAD PROTEST ROCKS GAINESVILLE | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
sierra cluob logo50


For Immediate Release

May 15, 2019                                     


Sarah Gledhill, 904-347-6490,

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, 352-222-8893,





One-of-a-kind protest urges veto for HB 7103 and SB 7068


GAINESVILLE (May 15, 2019) — The third of three events over the course of two days was held this afternoon to show opposition to SB 7068 and HB 7103, two disastrous bills now sitting on Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk. A coalition of organizations, concerned citizens, and elected leaders gathered at Bo Diddley Plaza, in the middle of the Wednesday Farmer’s Market crowd, to urge Governor DeSantis to veto SB 7068 and HB 7103. Both bills have been identified by a wide variety of interests, including over 90 environmental advocacy organizations, including the event organizers, Center for Biological Diversity, Florida Springs Council, Our Santa Fe River, Rum 138, and Sierra Club, as being egregious attacks on the Florida environment and the state’s working families, and therefore especially worthy of veto action by Governor DeSantis.


CONSERVE WATER – Turn off the tap as much as possible in every activity such as bathing, cleaning, irrigating, and washing. Click here for more ideas.


This protest was a one-of-a-kind. Farmer’s Market shoppers and protesters were regaled by thirty (30) dancing, acting flash mob characters dressed in animal and nature costumes to depict birds, bears, other creatures, trees, and rivers roaming free until paved over by a new toll road amid hissing and booing.  A well-fed developer character shouted “more money for rich people!” while cars went down the new expressway, paid the toll, and spelled out “keep toll roads out of the rural lane.”


After the flash mob, the crowd of over 50 protesters heard a number of speakers, including Marihelen Wheeler, Alachua County Commissioner:  “Once again our citizens must unite to fight to protect Florida’s environment against our elected state officials. Our experience with the Sabal Trail pipeline taught us important lessons about keeping citizens and local officials informed. Our hope is that Governor DeSantis will see that the people he represents are correct about the ecological and economic disaster a toll road would be for Florida and veto this bill.”


Sarah Gledhill, State Campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity, also spoke about SB 7068:  “In order to relieve congestion and promote economic development, we need to go on a roadway diet not a roadway binge. SB 7068 is baseless legislation without any demonstration of need or planning – crony capitalism at its finest.”


Regarding HB 7103, Ryan Smart, Executive Director of the Florida Springs Council stated:  “The reason Governor DeSantis must veto HB 7103 is the reason the veto power was created in the first place, to protect the interests of the common people against an out of control Legislature. Tacking a last-minute amendment that effectively ends Floridians’ ability to enforce comprehensive plan protections onto a bill jokingly described by its sponsor as ‘the last train out of town’ is an insult to the people of Florida. HB 7103 is bad policy abetted by bad process and deserves to be vetoed.”


“This [SB 7068] is the biggest boondoggle since the Barge Canal.  Legislators knew it was a bad idea, but endorsed it in exchange for favors from the leadership. FDOT was not even involved in the conception of this project that will saddle the public for 30 years with debt for a “private” road they won’t use. That means money that would be better spent on education, healthcare, environmental protection, and needed infrastructure will instead be funneled into the toll road project that benefits no one but road builders and developers” said Whitey Markle, Chair of the Sierra Club Suwannee St. Johns Group.


Mike Roth, President of Our Santa Fe River, “I think our ability to get a good size crowd in the middle of a workday shows great citizen concern in Central Florida over the prospect of SB7068 clearing the Governor’s desk. This bill reflects a large sum of taxpayer dollars for a study that’s already been done for a project that has already been deemed untenable. It is yet another indication of Tallahassee’s disregard for the health of Florida’s natural systems.”


Hashtags:  #SB7068 #TollRoadsToNowhere #RoadsToRuin #HB7103




Video of flash mob:


Sierra Club SB 7068 veto request letter:


Sierra Club HB 7103 veto request letter:



SB 7068:
HB 7103:



You might be interested in …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content