Friday, September 28, 2018

• Better Know a Local Non-Profit: Elsinore Valley Pregnancy Resource Center

Whenever I get a chance to share the good works of a local non-profit I take it. There is an organization called Elsinore Valley Pregnancy Resource Center (EVPRC) that serves this general area. 
This is the sign you'll see as you near the building.
Be careful, it's easy to miss the first time.
Though they've helped people from Riverside to Temecula, their key area encompasses three cities: Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, and Menifee. They assist about 240 unique families per year.
This sign is visible from the parking lot, the entrance is just around the brick wall.
The ages range from high school age to adult, but the typical ages are in the twenties. There are times that grandmothers will come into EVPRC when they've become the primary parent.
When you go in the glass double doors, you see this sign which directs you upstairs.
EVPRC has been operating in Lake Elsinore, in their current capacity, since February 2005, and the current location for six years. I spoke with the center's director Barbara Engel to get more information.

"We are here to befriend and help women who are in difficult pregnancies. They don't have support, they don't have money, they don't have a job, many different reasons. And they don't generally have anybody to talk to."
- Barbara Engel
It's not just women that are assisted by the center. It can include their children, their children's dad, and other family members. They aim to provide a place where women in need have somebody they can share their lives with, where they might not otherwise have support.
The top of the landing.
Barbara shared, "We build relationships and we do that mainly through our Wednesday classes, that we call Bridges to Possibilities. We have workshops for the women and every month there is a different topic."

In 2018 the topics: 
Jan: Nutrition & Cooking Healthy on a Budget
Feb: Budgeting & Finance
Mar: Creating Healthy Self-Esteem
Apr: Infant & Child Safety/Early Childhood Development
May: Boundaries with Adults
June: Boundaries with Children
July: Positive Attitude & Goal Setting
Aug: Crafts for Relaxation
Sep: Resumes, Job Search & Interview Preparation
Oct: Healthy Living for Women
Nov: Dealing with Loss
Dec: Christmas Crafts
The kid-friendly front desk area.
Often the bonds of friendship can develop so well, that even years after the families no longer need material support they will stop by to visit and say hello.
Brochures and garments in the reception area.
Food is a key resource that they help with. They utilize assistance from HOPE, and Fish and Loaves (a place to get lunch five days a week). 

Once a month on a Friday they have a Registered Nurse come in and teach the moms, and sometimes the dads, about things they're going to need to know.
Amy and Keith Hawkins (not in the photo) are regular volunteers.
Go Nutz Donuts regularly donates to the Wednesday classes.
I asked what a woman might expect upon her first visit, and though they aren't a medical place, they do have tests if one is needed. 

However, that isn't what they usually need when they come to the center. What they generally need is emotional support because they "don't want to do this alone, they want someone to talk to," to quote Barbara.

There are countless reasons that the women have for coming to the center, "but no one comes in here if they aren't in need."
The new-clothes closet.
The center looks to be a positive role model when the mother to be, or father to be, are contemplating what that step will actually mean for their futures. They will also help the women fill out the paperwork to get Medi-Cal started if that is something they need.

They often discuss jobs, housing, doctors, the development of the baby and many other pertinent topics a pregnant woman either wants to know or needs to know.
One of the decorations they have on the wall.
I asked about adoption counseling for those that know they aren't ready for parenthood.

"We do all-options counseling, depends on where they are [emotionally/mentally]. If they come in and say, 'I want to know what my choices are.' Then we go through all the choices. We tell them that it's not easy to be a parent. We talk to them about parenting, we talk to them about adoption [...] we also tell them about abortion. We tell them what it is, we do not refer for abortion, but we tell them what it is."
Tubs of clothes organized by age and gender.
Funding for the center is nearly all through small, individual donations. They have two grants for emergency services they provide. Things like gas cards, assistance with utilities, food and a small amount of rent if need be. They get no government support.
The Diaper Wall.
If you'd like to donate either money or time Barbara would love to take your call. You can donate through their website's PayPal LINK, and if you'd like to donate your time, I'm sure she'd be happy to set up an interview with you. ☺

If you have gently used baby clothes, they'd be happy to accept them from you.
The gracious Barbara Engel in front of an impressive wall of clothes.
They have a coming charity event

Walk for Life is Saturday, October 6th at Machado Park in Lake Elsinore. Registration starts at 8am. The walk starts at 10am. There will be games for the kids and the Knights of Columbus will be preparing hamburgers and hotdogs. The cost is $10, a fundraiser for EVPRC. 
The graphics on the shirt provided at the EVPRC fun walk.
I remember the shirt being much bluer than my camera recorded. 
I was told that they may be moving locations around the first of the year, but no matter their physical address, I'm sure you'll be getting the same caring attention if you seek their services.

Contact Information
(951) 245-8587
31461 Riverside Drive d, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
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Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.
– Abraham Lincoln

Wildomar Rap prefers to be a face in the crowd over a face on a poster in the Post Office.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

• Community Meeting: Homelessness

It was a packed house. I counted more than 55 residents that attended the community meeting about homeless issues in Wildomar. Also in the building were five members of RSO (Riverside Sheriff's Office) and 8 people that are part of the city.
Mayor Ben Benoit addresses the full house.
The meeting started with Mayor Ben Benoit welcoming the attendees then turning it over to Wildomar's Chief of Police, Captain Dan Anne for a few moments and then Deputy Robert Glaser began his presentation about local homeless issues.

I'll include the entire 2 hour meeting in two different videos. The first will be the presentation, and the second will be the questions and answers. Links at the bottom of the blog.

Instead of trying to break down the entire meeting let me sum it up in a couple of paragraphs and bullet points instead.

I thought it was a very productive meeting and a good step in getting the word out about how to deal with this problem. 

First and foremost: DO NOT GIVE FOOD OR MONEY to the homeless, you're only perpetuating the problem and usually making it worse. If you'd like to help the homeless, then please donate your time or money to a vetted charity.

If you see a crime: Report it, call it in.
In order to "have a crime" there must be a victim. If you don't call it in, then the police can't get involved. Even if it's after the fact, and the perp can't be found, you need to call it in. It helps the police track trends in offenses and can help later on to prevent repetitions in the future.
If you don't report it, it's the same as it never having happened.
If you see someone trespassing (homeless encampments) call it in. Be a "good witness" and have some details ready to share with the dispatcher.

Don't put yourself in danger. Which would include NOT taking pictures if there is a chance that you will then become the target of someone's rage. If you can take a photo of the situation, great, but don't put yourself, or your family in danger; it's just property.

Don't wait to report suspicious activity.
It was stressed over and over during the meeting: 
Do not give them money.

If you ever visit a beach town that has a pier you'll see the sign that says "Don't feed the pigeons" (please don't be a blockhead and think anyone is comparing humans to birds) but the nature of creatures (including humans) is to follow the path of least resistance. 
This issue reminds me of a famous movie quote.
If we are making it easy for homeless people to live here, they will live here and more will come once word gets out that we are a welcoming city.
Say no to panhandlers.
Interesting to learn, according to the presentation, that Starbucks (as a corporation) has taken the stance that they will allow homeless people to remain in their stores. Pretty lame move in my book. 
Donate to a non-profit instead of giving money to homeless people.
Below is a video of the first part of the meeting. Sorry Mayor Ben, my camera wasn't in record position until your part was over, but I appreciated the shout out just the same. ☺

The sound quality is meh. If it were up to me, I'd make sure that microphones were used at all meetings... but so far, I haven't been asked my thoughts on the matter. Still, you get the full meeting as it transpired... less the opening that is.
I'd already seen most of Officer Glaser's presentation before, so I was most interested in the Question & Answer portion, which actually ended up being longer than the presentation. Full 1 hour and 7 minute video is below.

Many issues were brought up, and it was easy to see how passionate many in the audience were on this matter.

• The first was from the owners of the Clinton Keith McDonald's. They've been trying to get the panhandlers away from their business since the beginning. 

"I don't want to lose business, but if I had small children, and I [were to] see some of those people outside, I wouldn't want to go in there."

It was a fascinating part of the meeting. It basically kicks off in the first 10 seconds of the video at the bottom of the blog.

• Discussion of the mysterious white van that is said to drop of homeless people. It's half urban myth and half truth on some level. (Click this link to jump to that part of the video)

• Next notable item was how one abandoned home in The Farm has been used as a flop house, and the out of state owner is ok with it. Talk about a stunning thing to have to put up with. (This topic starts at the 18:00 mark of the video)

• Regarding a recently broken up homeless encampment near Inland Valley Medical Center and Wildomar code enforcement officer Keith Ross's response, use this link to get to the 24:10 mark of the video.

• Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Swanson spoke on the issue at the 25:15 mark. She pointed out that 41% of the total Wildomar budget goes to police services. 

• Councilmember Bridgette Moore recapped the efforts that the city is undertaking and asked the residents to do their part too. "You've heard tonight that the city is doing something [about homelessness], you've heard that SWAG is doing something. So now I think it's also [fair to ask] what is everyone else going to do. How are you going to help us, because it's a team effort." Click this link to jump to the 43:30 mark where her comments can be located.

• Councilmember Tim Walker spoke next, telling people that this started with Prop 47, and urged people to complain to Sacramento. "Call the Governor's office, let those guys know 'we're ticked off here' with prop 47." His full comments begin right after Bridgette Moore, at the 44:54 mark.

• Last on the highlight reel is SWAG (Social Work Action Group). They are a new Non-Profit that is working in our region. To date they've helped 108 homeless people off the street in our region, of which 68 have stayed off the streets.

I have an appointment with SWAG to do a comprehensive blog about them next week (Thanks Silvia for helping get that on the calendar ☺). Until then, watch their part of the video which begins at the 47:20 mark.

Wildomar Rap opinion time

I'm sure that you've heard the old saying, "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Homelessness takes it to a new level. It's not even a marathon (something that can be accomplished in half a day), it's more like a career. 

There have always been homeless people, the big difference is the approach that society and government have taken to them.

In the past, we didn't tolerate criminal bands of trespassers that are now called "homeless people". Look at the facts, there is a huge difference between people "down on their luck" that can't make ends meet, and the criminals that would have been in jail if not for several misguided state propositions and new laws that have made this situation explode out of control.

Eventually the pendulum will swing back, but I don't see that on the near horizon.

As Deputy Glaser put it, "Elections have consequences" so know what it is you're voting for before casting that ballot.

In the meantime, DO NOT ADD TO THE MESS by handing out money to panhandlers. If you see something suspicious, report it, and be a "good witness" with descriptions of the person and the crime.
Video of the Question & Answer portion is below.

•                •                •

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?.
– Will Rogers

Wildomar Rap is confident that the other famous WR never encountered the type of stupidity that has been free flowing from Sacramento for the last couple of generations.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Monday, September 24, 2018

• Measure AA – Wildomar Public Safety and City Services AKA Tax Increase

I really hate happy talk no matter where it's coming from. 
link to definition.
If you look at the recent mailing by the city, it's basically interwoven with happy talk. Happy Talk soothes the ear, but leaves a lot out of the mix.

"How so?" you may be asking?

First, tell me how you can "maintain" and "improve" something at the same time; sounds like it's from the same logic that brought us the classic "a little bit pregnant"

Either you're maintaining something, or you're improving it

If you're simply "maintaining" it, by definition you are NOT "improving" it. Conversely, if you're improving something... you've done more than simply maintain it. 

Am I a stickler? 

Probably, but words mean things and shouldn't be trifled with when it comes to the phrasing in a ballot measure that looks to raise taxes.
Side 1 of the official mailer.
The issues mentioned are true enough, but $1,700,000 will barely scratch the surface.
Side 2 of the official mailer.
If I would have been tasked with writing the mailer that was recently sent out, I would have been very direct, and it would have gone more like this:

Wildomar Rap opinion time

When we voted on becoming a city a decade ago, there was never going to be enough revenue to have the things that other cities have. That includes very important things like Police and Fire services at levels our neighboring cities have always enjoyed.

You have two choices when it comes to Measure AA.

First, you can accept the truth that this city needs more revenue, so that proper levels of emergency services can be purchased. Which would necessitate a YES vote on Measure AA...


Your second option is to vote down Measure AA and understand that means Wildomar will always have too few cops and fire personnel

The claims in the city mailer are a tad rosy for my liking. How far do you think that $1.7M will stretch? 

We already have learned that the return of the VLF funds (about $2M per year) nearly ALL went to first responders when we increased the number of patrols earlier this year... plus the RSO is looking for a rate increase as we speak.

That's because when the VLF funds were stripped away, the police service patrols went from two officers on duty during the day, three at swing shift and two at night down to one officer on the day shift, two during swing shift and one at night. 

Another way to quantify it is that we went from 70 service hours a day (in 2011), to 40 service hours a day (until earlier this year), and recently back up to the 70 hours we had in 2011.

If you've heard any city council member tell you that we are back up to the previous levels of police, that isn't quite accurate. 

Yes, we are back up to the same number of shifts that we had in 2011 (or 70 service hours per day) but since 2011 we've gained nearly 5,000 additional residents. Which means our cop per 1000 residents has gone down... not increased or stayed the same.

We're here now, and whatever promises you heard about no need to raise taxes by those urging a yes vote on cityhood, need to be forgotten once and for all. 

They were promises based on hopes, not based on facts... otherwise, we wouldn't be looking down the barrel of a 12.9% increase in local sales tax. 
One additional penny equals an increase of almost 13%.
A 1% increase wouldn't even have amounted to a tenth of a cent.
Either vote to increase the budget by way of Measure AA so that we can increase the policing levels, or vote against the tax increase and watch our officer to resident ratio continue to dwindle. It's your choice

This is how I would have written it. Blunt and to the point.
But, before you think I'm a big meanie, poking holes in the city's somewhat optimistic claims of what can be purchased for $1.7M, you should see my thoughts on the official opposition to Measure AA. 

The writers of it must have worked over time to sound so vacuous... unless (gulp) that's their actual A-Game.

PRO TIP: No one cares about the 2008 BS in 2018.

Why do these people remain stuck in the past? Why do they think that the Wildomar of 2018 wants to say, "Ah ha, see, I told you so!" to promises from of 2008? 

NO ONE CARES IF YOU CAN SAY, "See I told you so". Turn the page already.

This is about having enough money to buy additional hours of police patrol services, and maybe increase fire protection. Nothing more.

The reason this isn't offered as a "special tax" is because, for some inexplicable reason, special taxes take a 2/3 vote.

Imagine how inane that is. The public is asked to vote for a "first responders" tax, something that would be earmarked for only those specific uses, and that takes 67%?

However, for a general tax, something that goes into the general fund... that only takes a simple majority. 

That is 180 degrees backward from what it should be, but there's no sense in barking at the moon over it. It's what it is.

The city council has pledged to spend the money the way they've advertised. With an oversight committee to ensure that the money goes where it has been promised. If they fail to live up to the bargain, then vote them out.

Though roads are mentioned, I wouldn't expect major renovations from such a small sum of money. 

Just to keep things in perspective, the substandard slurry job done in Windsong Valley several years ago cost in excess of half a million dollars, and wasn't actually ever even finished. (Check out parts of Prairie and Gierson if you're in doubt.) Roads cost a lot more money than what will be left over from the first responder's annual needs. 

What city council voting district are you in?

If you want a city council member that is a straight talker, and will go against the grain when necessary, remember me when you're filling out your ballot.
Link to campaign website.
If you like the status quo, and want things to stay the way they've been for the last ten years... I'm probably not the candidate for you.
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Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.
– Abe Lincoln

Wildomar Rap would interpret "materials for our future support and defense" as "more cops" and "better roads" if Honest Abe had been talking about The W.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

• City Council Meeting September 2018

The key news bits that came from tonight's meeting included: 

• The Bundy Canyon redesign is still at the 95% finished phase and now the hopeful start of construction is said to be Autumn of 2019.
• Food Trucks are a step closer to being legal in The W.
• Live Streaming of city meetings inch closer to becoming a reality.
• Wildomar is about to put a permanent ban into effect on all commercial uses for cannabis.

First let's start with the presentation honoring the US Constitution's 231st year since its drafting. 

Members of the Daughters of the Revolution were part of a brief presentation before the meeting fully got underway, then posed for a picture with the city council.
Honoring our US Constitution.
Public Comments on non agenda items
• Ken Mayes remarked about the lack of live streaming, something that was to begin with the September city council meeting, and that the city still doesn't have its own Facebook page. He also went over a list of local groups that are delinquent with their paperwork with the Registry of Charitable Trusts.
Wildomar Rap opinion time

He mentioned many local, venerable organizations. It seems that the paperwork is a chore to get through, but we have such safeguards in place because bad operators have taken advantage of good hearted people in the past, and to the point that we the people demanded the government step in. Come on local Non Profits, get that paperwork in, and that'll put a fork in it.
• Gail Taylor wanted to know how the repeal of the gas tax (Proposition 6) would affect the Bundy Canyon Road project.
• Patrick Ellis of the Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce mentioned the scheduled Candidates Forum that will be Tuesday, October 9th, at 6pm in the Wildomar City Council Chambers.
• Ashley Casler
Spoke of her dissatisfaction with things in the city, "I bought my home recently, within the last year, I'm from the area locally, I've never lived in a city that looks like this. So my concerns are, I want to know where our tax dollars are going. I want to know who I need to talk to to cut up a tree by my house that I worry my child is going to get drug into by some transient and harmed on her way home from school. If somebody doesn't do it, I'm going to take my husband's chainsaw and do it myself. I want to know why the parks aren't cleaned up, why they're not maintained properly, and why nobody goes around picking up the trash, and this city looks like a dump." 

Wildomar Rap opinion time

Residents like Ashley should be applauded for their passion and concern. I agree with many of her sentiments and want our city to lead the way and show more pride in our town. 

When we allow trash to pile up, or weeds to get out of control (or graffiti to linger for months), what kind of top-down message does that send everyone else? 

From residents to visitors to passersby it tells people that we don't take ourselves seriously... or at least not seriously enough. 
Please watch Ashley's one minute public comment in the video below.

Mayor Benoit told her that he'd reach out to her directly.
• Rick Harris (10:10) was a late entry for public comments and his really was more suited for item 3.1 (Bundy Canyon Update). He spoke of the rude behavior of the group that is negotiating on behalf of the city when it comes to right of way issues. He said he will not talk to them anymore. 

Consent Calendar 
• Ken Mayes (11:31) asked to talk about items 1.6 and 1.7. 
1.6 was regarding the coming "Little Free Library" that will be installed by an Eagle Scout candidate in Marna O'Brien Park across from the Freedom Swing. He wanted to know who was going to be responsible for maintaining the LFL after it's part of the park.

Councilmember Bridgette Moore indicated that it was going to be maintained by the same family that is looking after the LFL in Windsong Park when asked by Mayor Ben Benoit.

Councilmember Dustin Nigg stated, "And I promise, if there are no books in there, I will buy books myself and will put them in there. It's being recorded, I'll buy them."

Gotta love Dustin Nigg's no nonsense approach!
3.1 Bundy Canyon Update 
Please watch the video starting at the (19:10 mark of the video) for the full presentation. What I got out of it is that the best case scenario start time has been moved from "Summer of 2019" to "Fall of 2019".

See this past blog where "Summer 2019" 
had been established as recently
 as a May 2018 community meeting.

Project cost estimate is $40M of which the city has secured $30M so far. Three options to close the shortfall were discussed. 

Option 1 is to stay the course, look for local sources of money, and basically rely on SB 1 funds.

Option 2 is to track other funds which could delay the project 24 months.

Option 3 is to federalize the project. That would also cause a delay and not necessarily fill the shortfall in funds. That process would cost about half a million dollars to set up. This seemed like the worst option of them all if I heard it correctly.

Here's how I interpret what's going to happen with Bundy Canyon and the proposed redesign. Especially considering the current $10M shortfall in the budget: 

If Proposition 6 is passed (which would overturn SB1's 12 cent a gallon tax hike of 2017) then the project would get mothballed.

The vote on Prop 6 will be your call. 

I'd be the first to agree that the way Sacramento has used the gas tax money in the past is reason enough to send them a strong message by repealing their thumb in the eye to the average commuter tax increase (which is a large portion of our region). 

Just remember, it's in the same category as "cutting off your nose to spite your face." Just understand the long term ramifications when you vote to repeal the tax.
Link to full Wiki article.

There was more to Item 3.1, and if you'd like to hear the details, please watch the video from one of the links provided.

3.2 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) (36:30 mark of the video)
Every year the city is awarded money to use in areas of need within the city. Part of the money is designated to go to Non Profit groups. Last year there was $20,677 that went to three local organizations. HOPE ($9000), Assistance League ($9000) and Rancho Domacitas ($2677).

Due to some quirk in the way things are done in the halls of government, all the allocated money that Wildomar is in line for had to go to a particular project (Sedco Hills Sidewalk Project); potentially leaving the Non Profits out of the mix this time round. 

The workaround is that this year, the usual money that will be going to the Non Profits ($17,500 this cycle) will be coming from the city's reserves. With the intention being to go back to the previous way of allocating the moneys once this year's project is done. 

Link to blog covering a recent request from the city asking you to participate in a survey that deals with the CDBG issue.

3.2 Food Truck Ordinance (55:50 mark in the video)
• Ken Mayes commented on this. He was glad to see this come about. He opined whether or not there was a way to allow the food trucks to operate in commercial districts until 2am. "Why does everything in this town have to close up at ten o'clock?" he asked.
Wildomar Rap opinion time

Come on Kenny, this is a true bedroom community if ever there was one, and I can't imagine anything good coming from food trucks operating until 2am as a regular thing. 

For special events? Perhaps, but I doubt any legit food truck vendor would even look to operate after 8pm (muchless past midnight) the other 360 days of the year.
The ordinance will allow "mobile food facilities" to operate on public and private property provided they have a city business licence and a city mobile vending permit

Mayor Benoit wanted to know if there was a way to make it one permit. There was a bit of jockeying over the language, but it seems reasonable that obtaining a mobile vending permit would automatically come with the business license too. If that type of permit needs to cost more, so be it, but don't make it a two step process.

City Manager's Report (1:01:35)
City Manager Gary Nordquist asked to begin the process of putting together a permanent ban on all commercial cannabis uses. 

If nothing is done by December 14th, then the lack of an ordinance would put the city behind the eight ball when it comes to shutting down illegal operations like the one recently closed in Sedco Hills.

Councilmember Nigg remarked that he'd like to have a discussion on the issue, but acknowledged that there wasn't sufficient time to properly hammer out any ordinances before the December deadline. 
"I want to have the discussion at some point. As long as we're on the same page as that (having this come back to the council) [then fine]."

Mayor Ben Benoit has been looking for the county to act on this issue first, then having the city take a look at their ordinances as a possible guide. It's just taken many months longer than he'd anticipated.

•                •                •

The meeting was recorded on video, just not live streamed. The live stream is said to be about 45 seconds behind real time. Mr. Nordquist said he would share a link to the test video.
I heard from the Mayor that the video and audio didn't quite sync up and that a link should be ready to share with the community sometime next week. This is why the dry run was done before going live... working the kinks out first.

The company doing the video work (CBC Technical) is located in Wildomar.
A look at the snazzy new camera. I knew that pillar would come in handy one day.
Below is a video of the entire 66 minute meeting.

•                •                •

"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."
– Paul Dirac

In blogging Wildomar Rap tries to share stories in such a way as to be understood by everyone, yet often it ends up coming across as inscrutable as most poetry.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

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