GNV, state hold GRU lawsuit hearing 

Gainesville Regional Utilities sign
Gainesville Regional Utilities sign
Suzette Cook

Attorneys for the city of Gainesville and Florida officials argued their cases before Leon County Judge Angela Dempsey on Friday morning, and a decision could come within the next week. 

The official ruling could alter how or if House Bill 1645 is enacted in the coming two weeks. The bill replaced the Gainesville City Commission as the controlling body of Gainesville Regional Utilities, placing a governor-appointed authority in its place.  

In the lawsuit, Gainesville argues across nine different counts that HB 1645 violates the Florida Constitution and state process. A list of those arguments can be found below, and many have to do with how the city and GRU issues bonds and violations of state process.  

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For example, Gainesville says the state violated provisions to hold a referendum and failed in its duty to notify citizens. The first count also accuses HB 1645 of being too vague.  

“HB 1645 is so unconstitutionally vague as to place the City and its officials at risk for violating the statute and other areas of Florida law, that are contradictory to this special law, without an intent to do so,” the lawsuit reads.  

Mayor Harvey Ward has spoken on this point at meetings, stating he doesn’t know how the bill—and relationship between the general government and GRU—would work in practice.  

During media availability on Friday, Ward said he tried to clarify the bill before it passed. He said he wrote to state Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, the sponsor of the bill, to modify the legislation and eliminate what he saw as warning flags. 

“I do worry about [HB 1645],” Ward said. “It’s a problem. We were left with something that there were not complete answers to, so we had to sue.” 

The lawsuit lists Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd as defendants.  

However, in their replies to the lawsuit, all three officials take the position that they are not the correct office to sue and that the case should be dismissed.  

“The City’s undisputed facts that are material to determining standing and who may be the proper party establish that there is no standing against the Secretary (or perhaps anyone yet) and he is not otherwise a proper party to this action,” the response from Byrd reads.  

All three also argue the city is suing these officials as a cover for a “general challenge to the existence of the [HB 1645].” 

Ward said Dempsey has indicated that she will try to make a decision by Friday, Sept. 29. He said the best action for the city would be for Dempsey to declare the law void, allowing the city to continue its control of GRU.  

He said operations could continue as normal while the city works with citizens on a referendum to see how they want the utility managed. But he noted that the judge has many options between allowing the law to move forward as it stands or repealing it. 

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Jeff Gehmann

Another attempt by radical DEC dems to hold on to the highly abused GRU piggy bank they have siphoned millions of dollars out of the last 20 years under Hanrahan, Poe and Ward. It is simply outrageous that those siphoned millions that were used for silly ignorant purposes that failed, caused the lowest utility rates in the state to now be the highest, except key west. Go figure! Were these good expenditures: build biomass plant, spend $1m plus evaluating free wireless, creating annual rental inspection for every rental property – later determined illegal, adding Equity &Inclusion offices in City Hall, a Climate Change officer, giving charter officers ridiculous raises that exceed what most large cities pay, dignity village & Grace marketplace that attracts thousands of homeless, free food and bus passes requiring restaurants to store leftovers in special containers for pick-up, Reichert House crime training, keeping high paid Chief jones on the payroll with no duties for several years after he stepped down, city lawsuit against state, on and on!


Well said

The citizens of Gainesville created this mess by electing for years and years clueless officials who couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Woke ideology and playing at being discriminated victims doesn’t result in effective government. The city has achieved failing grades for so long.

You never see one word in any statement from the government about expanding good paying jobs for east Gainesville. In fact my observation is that the elected leadership cares nothing for good private sector employment. They choose government “solutions” that are abject failures both in design and implementation.

Gary Donner

Until the virtue signaling liberals are shown the door( not holding my breath) nothing will change. Pooping in one’s nest is a hard habit to shake. This is a university town and UF’s Marxist leanings drives the narrative.

Real Gainesville Citizen and Voter

This is a valiant effort on the part of the city to fight the Soviet-style takeover of our utilities. HB 1645 is just another example of why “the Free State of Florida” is actually the latest chapter in an Orwellian campaign to eliminate local decision-making and centralize all control in Tallahassee. Governor appointed individuals to control GRU? That is literally putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Any bets on how long it will be before the decision is made to sell GRU to Duke Energy? Then the money we pay for utilities won’t even make a pause in Gainesville; it will go directly to North Carolina. What a great idea! Thank you, God!

Jeff Gehmann

Way off base partner! If you think you’ve had good leadership, not sure what planet you are on. You are OK with the highest priced utilities in the state of FL (except Key West) and the huge property tax increases we’ve had?


You high Clairee? As a resident of Alachua County and NOT the City of Gainesville, I have ZERO say in how GRU is managed. Yet the City of Gainesville uses GRU as a taxation method to fund its pet projects to the tune of TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS annually. This taxation without representation must STOP.