Bielarski releases book on GRU, state takeover 

Ed Bielarski released his first book in July, recounting his time at Gainesville Regional Utilities and two decades of decision-making from the City Commission.
Ed Bielarski released his first book in July, recounting his time at Gainesville Regional Utilities and two decades of decision-making from the City Commission.
Graphic by Seth Johnson

Gainesville’s Ed Bielarski published “The City That Lost Control” last week, a novel that chronicles the last couple of decades of the City Commission’s management of Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU).  

Bielarski served as general manager of GRU from 2016 to 2022, when the City Commission fired him, spurring him to run for mayor in a crowded field. He lost the mayoral bid in a runoff election with current Mayor Harvey Ward, and Bielarski said since the election he’s been working on the book.  

But the beginnings of “The City That Lost Control” stretch back to when Bielarski still ran GRU.  

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“A couple years ago, I realized that there was a disconnect, if you will, between public perception and what was going on with the utility as well as the City Commission,” Bielarski said in an interview. “I started to accumulate the data, the information, the facts and kind of decided on an outline of how I’d weave a story around the facts.”   

Gainesville mayoral candidate Ed Bielarski spoke in opposition to eliminating single-family zoning prior to Monday's meeting.
Photo by Seth Johnson Former Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Ed Bielarski released a book chronicling his time as GM from 2016 to 2022.

Bielarski fashioned the book as a novel and gives insight into his thoughts while working through the biomass buyout and when his job was on the line multiple times. Unlike a novel though, the characters are all real people—former and current city commissioners, mayors, GRU employees and city managers.  

Bielarski said because his whole career happened in public, he could access the public records to use the exact wording of others. He says 99% of the dialogue used is quoted from public meetings, emails and even Facebook Messenger texts.  

“Hopefully, it draws them in to read more of the story. Because, I mean, if you want to elicit the facts, you can write a white paper that’s 40 pages long,” Bielarski said. “But if you want to get the full flavor of the people and how they were involved and their personal interactions and things like that, you need to see that in a novel.”   

The book starts with Bielarski’s entrance in Gainesville driving a U-Haul and chronicles the biomass buyout through today’s headlines, including the Florida Legislature’s decision to override the City Commission and form an independent board to manage GRU.  

Bielarski said he plans to hold a book signing in the area. He’s not sure where the book would sell outside of Florida, but local residents, he said, will find it insightful into GRU history and how the city found itself under the current state law. 

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Angela Casteel

Absolutely love this book so far, I have a busy crazy life right now, but I’ve started the book and have been reading. I would say I am a quarter of the way in, and the drama hasn’t ended. I cannot imagine how the drama unfolds in the end… if it is anything like it begins this should be a nationwide best seller! And an example for other cities of what not to do to their utilities!

M & C Ziegler

We can’t wait to read Mr. Bielarski’s book. Please let us know when and where your book-signing happens!
Thank you.

Edward Bielarski

I am planning on a July 22nd 12 to 2 book signing at Book Gallery West.


I would do it at City Hall during a Commission Meeting . Oh wait they are on Summer Recess. But when they get back set one up!


Sour grapes, just a bunch of hyperbole or is there actually some reality sprinkled within?
I think it’s interesting when politicians use the phrase ‘true story’.

Edward Bielarski

The book is thoroughly researched. There is no sprinkling of reality.ot is tidal wave of truth


Reality is a Gainesville City Commission Bankrupted Utility. Good Grief everyone can see that.

citizen Sane

Where can I buy the book? I’ve followed this mess ever since the Pegeen and Poe era.

Edward Bielarski

It’s in paperback or Kindle on Amazon

Jeff Gehmann

You just named the 2 mayoral components responsible for this public finance Disaster! Together with key wasters and radical plan supporters Hinson, HayesSanto, Arreola, DEC of Alachua County, others they DESTROYED a once fine utility and caused severe damage to the city (crime rate way higher than nat avg), homeless people everywhere (attracted by dignity village and current disaster area, free bus rides, etc.). Bielarski’s book is factual and lays leadership to waste. Buy it, a good read so that this never happens again. Don’t vote for anyone endorsed by DEC!