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September 17, 2006


Dear Recappers:

Thanks for your reactions to the election results. Keep up the good work. Please remember, though, that all politics is local, at least in themail. As I say repeatedly, we’re not a forum for national or international political debates, so this is not the place to convince others that your favored national party is the one true path to political salvation, while the opposing party sponsors Satan worshipping and baby eating. Keep it local; perhaps even more local than citywide. Will any of the elections have a direct impact on your neighborhood?

My reaction this week is that Fenty has made a couple of big missteps already. In the mayoral debates, Fenty distinguished himself from the other candidates by saying directly that if he were elected he would replace Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey; all the others gave mealy-mouthed responses about how they would have discussions with Ramsey about staffing and street policing and so on. My impression is that Fenty won votes with his decisiveness and directness. But now that he’s won the primary, he gives the same mealy-mouthed response to the Ramsey question as the other candidates did. He won’t necessarily replace Ramsey; he’ll have discussions with him about policing issues.

Secondly, Fenty seems intent on making his first big campaign a mayoral takeover of the schools. He seems determined to repeat Tony Williams’s mistaken attempt at a power grab. The point is to improve the public schools through cooperation among the school board, the school bureaucracy, the city council, and the mayor. Williams didn’t get that point; instead, he picked a political fight and turned the schools issue into a debate over increasing his personal power rather than into a united attempt to improve the education of school children. Williams’s efforts led to a blind cul-de-sac and years of confusion. Fenty now seems poised to repeat that failed history, and again to make it all about the mayor and his power, rather than about the kids. Besides, a mayoral takeover of the schools would require the city council to pass a charter amendment, and then for the people to vote on the charter amendment the council passed. Even more councilmembers distrust and dislike Fenty than distrusted and disliked Williams when he campaigned to take over the schools, so Fenty would have to spend almost all his energy, effort, and attention for the first six months or year of his term convincing them to defer to him. That attempt would sacrifice his chance to make some dramatic early improvements in other areas. Fenty’s threatened takeover may be the biggest issue of the race for a new school board president -- who among the candidates will be best able to face down Fenty and redirect his efforts into cooperating to improve the schools, rather than into fighting to increase his personal power?

Gary Imhoff


DC’s Gun Buyback
Jack McKay,

Among the paroxysm of actions to deal with the supposed “crime emergency,” the District Council earmarked $250,000 for a gun buyback program, executed this week (September 16). But is this anything more than another expensive feel-good effort? Here’s what one rigorous 1997 study of the effectiveness of crime prevention measures ( has to say: the “hypothesis is that offering cash for guns in a city will reduce the number of incidents in which guns are used in crime in that city. Four evaluations . . . show no effects of gun buyback programs on guns. There are several reasons why buyback programs may fail to reduce gun violence: they often attract guns from areas far from the program city; they may attract guns that are kept locked up at home, rather than being carried on the street; potential gun offenders may use the cash from the buyback program to buy a new and potentially more lethal firearm; the buyback cash value for their old gun may exceed market value substantially.

“The enormous expense of these programs is instructive. When St. Louis invested $250,000 in gun buybacks in 1994, the same funds could have been used to match 250 children with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Those 250 children would then have enjoyed about half the risk of becoming drug users, at least for the first year. . . . But the opportunity cost of the programs never entered into the debate.

“The scientific rigor of the buyback evaluations is not great. They can be summarized as providing moderate evidence of no effect. They fail to show effects on gun crimes relative to a comparison of trends in the same types of crimes committed without guns. Given their high cost and weak theoretical rationale, however, there seems little reason to invest in further testing of the idea.”


Annoying Candidate Calls
Dru Sefton, drusefton at hotmail dot com

I didn’t seem to get nearly as many automated candidate calls as some on this list; I had perhaps three or four. Maybe that’s because I recently reregistered my number. I’d noticed over the last six months or so an increase in telemarketeer calls so I went to the Federal Do Not Call Registry site and discovered this:

When Does My Registration Expire? Your phone number will remain on the registry for five years from the date you register (unless you choose to take it off the registry or your phone number is disconnected). If you register online, you may want to print the Web page for your records when your registration is accepted.

I originally registered three years ago, but figured I’d register again ( That did the trick; no more telemarketeers.


The Republican Candidates
Bob Kabel, Chairman, DC Republican Committee,

While it’s true that in the past the winners of the Democratic primary have gone unchallenged, the elections of 2006 will be a different story. Voters are voting for change and for new and different ideas. So, in two key wards and in three citywide races, our candidates will make sure that the Democrats cannot duck real debates and answer the tough questions on the future of this city.

In Ward 6, we were proud to nominate Tony Williams ( who has distinguished himself as both a Republican, a civil rights advocate, a active member of the community. He will provide a strong challenge to a Democratic candidate who has a history of underachieving, promoting failed schools, and ignoring the needs of the community. In Ward 3, Theresa Conroy is a dynamic candidate who combines the intellect of a professor, with the care and heart of a mother. She is also a homeowner and recognizes the need for lower property taxes and recordation fees. Marcus Skelton was nominated in the primary for at-large councilmember, currently held by David Catania (I). For mayor, David Kranich will push Adrian Fenty all the way to November.

These candidates will raise the tough questions that Democrats don’t want to answer.


Slots Update
Dorothy Brizill,

On Thursday, September 21, at 9:30 a.m., the DC Court of Appeals will hold a hearing on the 2006 Video Lottery Terminal slots initiative. In this case, the three appeallants (Dorothy Brizill, DCWatch; Thelma Jones, President, Fairlawn Citizens Association; and Anthony Muhammad, Chairman of ANC 8A) are appearing pro se and arguing that the initiative is not a proper subject for an initiative because it seeks to overturn, amend, or repeal a federal law (the Johnson Act), which is contrary both to the Home Rule Act and the Constitution; it seeks to appropriate funds by mandating programs and not making those programs subject to appropriations; and it encroaches upon mayoral authority, contrary to the provisions of the Home Rule Act, by mandating that the Lottery Board grant a license to operate a gambling casino to the sponsors of the initiative.

The hearing will be at the Court of Appeals on the Sixth Floor of 500 Indiana Avenue, NW. Copies of all the filings in the case are available at


The Meaning of Fenty’s Victory
Katherine Howard,

Might I put in my two cents and mention that the overwhelming choice of Fenty shows to me how completely people are fed up with the status quo of the last few years, to put it mildly. The silent majority has been heard! Hurrah!


The At-Large Race Post Mortem
Danilo Pelletiere,

The press has been stunningly quiet about Phil Mendelson’s convincing victory over A. Scott Bolden in the primary on September 12. Phil Mendelson won 121 of 142 precincts and all eight wards (ranging from 85 percent in Ward 3 to 51 percent in Ward 8), and in no precinct did he win less than 44 percent of the vote. Not only did Mr. Bolden not get over 56 percent anywhere in the city, but in some places he received as little as 7 percent of the vote.

To date (Sunday), only Marc Fisher in the Post has seen fit to mention the citywide extent of Mr. Mendelson’s victory, and the analysis of the at-large race has limited itself to applauding the apparent lack of race as a deciding factor in both citywide council races and mentioning the limitations of Mr. Bolden as a candidate. But it is hard to believe that an experienced, energetic African-American candidate with greater than a two-to-one funding advantage, such as A. Scott Bolden, could have been so universally panned by voters if he faced the politically weak, out-of-touch, bumbling caricature of a politician that the press used to described Phil Mendelson prior to election day. So, while Mr. Bolden was clearly a lighter-caliber candidate than he was made out to be, the numbers tell a more important story about Phil Mendelson. Phil Mendelson ran an aggressive citywide campaign that won on his record, as he has two times in the past. Perhaps DC’s chattering class will have the class to recognize that achievement. I am not holding my breath.


A Big Loss
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

The margin of defeat of Kathy Patterson in the primary election for council chairman was a likely outcome, independent of the Washington Post’s endorsement of her opponent. It is very difficult for a white, blond, woman to win a citywide election. Kathy did very well in Ward 3 (her home ward), where she had been the councilman for the last twelve years, and in Ward 2. Her winning margin and turnout in those wards is a tribute to her supporters and campaign workers. Kathy had supporters and campaign workers in all the wards who were impressed by her skills, performance, and knowledge. That’s not enough in a citywide election against a minority opponent.

Kathy is smart, hardworking, and can make things happen. She will do well in her next venture. The only real loser in this election for council chairman is the District of Columbia.


Sandy Allen for At-Large Councilmember
Arthur Jackson,

As a precinct captain for Adrian Fenty at Precinct 126, I encountered numerous voters who asked me why Sandy Allen wasn’t running this year. With the council attempting to get diversity, Sandy Allen has the experience, vision, and understanding of the legislative process to serve as a great at-large city councilmember. She is a strong defender of how to carefully budget tax dollars, and her expertise in health care will be needed on the next city council. Also, we can not discuss diversity without acknowledging that with the departure of Linda Cropp, there will be no African-American women on our city council.

Democrats across this city will have two votes for at-large councilmembers in November. I, like numerous other Democrats, am looking for an independent councilmember with Democratic values. Sandy Allen would be a great candidate and an even better DC at-large councilmember.

[Allen has not filed petitions to run as an independent in the general election, so if she ran it would have to be as a write-in candidate. — Gary Imhoff]


And the Winner Is — Not You, Buddy Boy
Jonathan R. Rees,

In the District of Columbia, there are 428,000 adults who are eligible to register to vote, but only 289,410 (32.8 percent) are registered. On September 12, of those 289,410 people who could have voted, only 103,406 (35.7 percent) did. Of the total number of adults in the District of Columbia who could have voted, only 1 of every 4.15 did. In other words, 75 percent of the people in DC never seem to want to vote!

Thus, the winners of each race were not winners. There was no public mandate, but the people showed once again how disgusted they are with DC politics, the poor choice of candidates, and how they see DC government as a joke and just a bunch of pawns on that Congressional chessboard!

In sum, there were no real winners, just losers, because we only had losers to choose from.


DCSEC Would Give Miller Almost a Million of Public Money
Ed Delaney,

From “District government officials believe a plan to build condominiums and parking garages adjacent to a new baseball stadium in SE is in danger of collapsing and have offered to buy out the developer for nearly $1 million. The DCSEC, which is overseeing stadium construction, delivered a contract to developer Herbert Miller yesterday that would give him the right to build two 13-story towers just north of the ballpark on city land. The $990,000 [buyout] figure is just below the $1 million threshold that would require approval by the DC Council.” Let’s look at the timeline here. “In February, [AWC Chair Stephen] Goldsmith provided the DC Council with a letter signed by Herb Miller of Western Dvt. agreeing to pay the city up to $70 million in exchange for the right to develop on stadium land. Of the $70 million, the city would receive $55 million and MLB owners would receive $15 million, Goldsmith wrote.” (Washington Post, June 11). On July 12, the Times reported that “under the plan, the city would sell the land needed for the project to Western for $61 million.” On August 4, the Times reported that "under the tentative financial arrangement with Miller, the developer would pay about $39 million for the land, and the commission would pay for the garages. But with only $3 million left to spend, the commission could ask Miller to pay for the garages in exchange for a lower purchase price on the land, or work out some other financial arrangement that will not require more city money." And whatever total Miller would end up paying might not have been paid in full in this lifetime, given the "creative" way that Tammany, I mean City Hall was allowing their pal Herb to operate, as the Nats’ Stan Kasten asserted that the Miller boondoggle "does not even guarantee the city cash payment of the full value of the development rights."

The sales price from Miller to the city shrank significantly with no explanation or apparent complaint from the negotiating whizzes at the DCSEC (who are entrusted with protecting the public‘s financial interest in their negotiations and dealings with private entries) as the city‘s commitment level and parking overruns continued to rise. And the deadline for the CFO’s approval of the dubious project passed this Labor Day, as several legal and financial questions surrounded it. We learned from a September 1 Post editorial that city officials were testing the legality of the city’s offering private developer Miller a loan to help with excavation or other underground work for a private project. That was followed on September 6 by a Post report that who would pay for cost overruns on a project that supposedly was designed to cover all overruns on the MLB-required 1,225 parking spaces adjacent to the ballpark was at issue, as well as the legality of the plan itself. This is all while the supposedly rock-hard cap appears to be in jeopardy due to all of the project’s uncertainties! Given this context of a rapidly-deteriorating project, where does the DCSEC get off submitting a contract on September 15 (right after the primaries, of course) for a seemingly doomed project that the Nationals are most certainly going to reject so late into the project timeline that cuts Miller a check for as much public money as the DCSEC thinks it can get away with without DC Council interference if the plan fails? The near million dollars is chicken feed in terms of the public money the Brigade and DC Council roped the city into paying for a private enterprise, but it’s significant as far as every other city project and need. This is as Tammany Hall as it gets, and both sides of that cozy deal are in for a rude awakening if they think that’s going to fly.

“Miller added that he has spent $5.5 million on architectural designs, engineering work and planning and legal fees, at the request of the city. ‘I am not interested in doing projects where I lose money because the city did not fulfill its obligations,’ Miller said.” What, you spent money and didn’t see a return on every dime of your investment? Welcome to the world of private development, Miller! Don’t insult us by insinuating that you’re somehow entitled to compensation for during prep work on a speculative project that you won the rights to on a noncompetitive basis, especially since you‘re the one that hasn‘t fulfilled your obligations despite a specific timeline associated with the project. Here’s an important fact check: Miller’s the one who has been clamoring to do work in conjunction with the city and the ballpark project for years, and not the other way around. In 2003, it was Miller‘s persuasion of his close personal friend Jack Evans that resulted in commissioning a study of a potential ballpark site — Banneker Overlook — that had been roundly rejected by two comprehensive and costly site evaluation studies undertaken by the city. In 2004, Evans then introduced legislation in the Finance Committee that had been drafted by Miller’s lawyers that would‘ve committed the city to build a ballpark at the site. (I guess the city should pay him for his self-generated legal expenses there, too, according to his logic.)

Then Miller submitted a proposal in January 2005 as part of the obligation to solicit plans for private financing. That proposal was rejected for many reasons, foremost because it exceeded both the project’s overall cost and the ballpark debt limit by almost $300 million. In a very telling comment, the CFO wrote in his evaluation of Miller’s flaw-laden proposal that "it may not be legal for the District to acquire land through eminent domain/condemnation and transfer it to a private entity," which of course is what he’s trying to perpetrate currently. (The DC council passed a resolution without debate "authorizing the sale of certain real property no longer required for public purposes," despite its being seized via eminent domain a few months earlier. The council’s approving an action that is so likely illegal leaves the city vulnerable to significant financial penalties and much higher land cost estimates arising from the pending lawsuits of the previous landowners that could dwarf the penalties that MLB could impose, so they should welcome the likely demise of his scheme but be wary of accepting a similar proposal for the land in question.)

As for the current project, Miller sold his boondoggle to city officials without the city’s creating any obligation on their part. It’s Miller that’s kept promising the moon, while he reportedly has yet to provide the city government and specifically the CFO with any concrete designs, financing, insurance, and other required legalities necessary to proceed, despite the definitive project timeline. No one was twisting Miller’s arm to get involved here, as he so pathetically portrays it to justify receiving nearly $1 million of city revenue just for submitting a bad proposal for a private project. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if he spent $5.5 million (a figure that of course comes with no proof but just promises from Miller) or $500 million; the costs of the preparation work for a project being done for a private purpose — for which he has not met the city’s obligations — needs to be borne by him and not by the city via a hastily delivered contract from the DCSEC, despite Miller’s unmet project obligations almost two weeks past the CFO’s Labor Day deadline. That the contract with the hefty buyout just under the DC Council’s automatic oversight figure is being delivered at the same time city officials are reportedly resigned to the demise of the Miller boondoggle is as ethically dubious as anything that’s occurred during this ballpark process — which is saying a lot.

“If Miller’s towers are not built, DCSEC officials have said they would consider paving over the area to provide surface-level parking spots with the potential for future development. Another possibility would be to ask the DC Council for more money to build garages underground or aboveground, commission officials said.” So now the Brigade might ask for more money or play some more budget games to cover overruns that would make the rock-hard $611 million cap a post-election joke! The worst thing about this is that the DC government brought this on itself by caving into every funding demand from private interests on the ballpark project, and has been handing out public money like hotcakes, with several city officials and councilmembers cringing in fear of MLB penalties and Brigade-led pressure to the point that they’re now willing to pay and approve anything, including the noncompetitive transfer to a private developer of the immensely valuable ballpark land (along with its tremendously valuable development rights) that was swiped from existing landowners via eminent domain only to have its purported public use dropped a few months later to get the land into Miller‘s mitts. No wonder Miller is trying to run this process and get as much free money and development rights as he can while his pals at the Brigade are opening the floodgates to him. Rather than settle the issue by caving to MLB’s lease demands and Miller’s site demands (as he reportedly twisted arms during the lease debacle that led the council to approve of the unworkable site with its spiraling overruns), the council’s midnight knee-buckle on the lease has led to even more cost uncertainty and money grabs from private entities that pal up to the Brigade.

Wasn’t the restructuring of the DCSEC after the six city and federal investigations into its legal, financial, and ethical issues in 2003 supposed to end this financial waste and abuse of power? The unseemly nature of what looks exactly like a buddy-buddy payoff from the DCSEC to Miller and his continued coziness with city officials demands an investigation from the DC council and the new administration. That investigation should be followed by definitive action, which should include resignations and terminations of contracts and appointments as occurred with previous DCSEC officials. This would enable the ongoing stadium process to proceed in a competent manner with the best interest of the public, not pals in the private sector, at heart. It is also hoped that the council and the future administration will relieve Miller and Western Development from any further involvement in the ballpark project, given the heartache and financial hardship that the city is unjustly thrusting upon Miller‘s civic-minded shoulders (or, seriously, given the ethical clouds that surround almost every aspect of Miller‘s involvement with the project).


It’s All About Our National Capital’s Future
Len Sullivan,

NARPAC is very pleased with the results of the DC primaries and is encouraged that DC’s new leaders will find the energy to face the really tough issues of continuing to raise the stature of our nation’s capital city. We congratulate both Mayor Williams and Council Chair Cropp for their very substantial successes in improving DC’s image, but think new blood must be spilled to conquer the overriding problems of endemic, self-perpetuating, poverty, and declining urban/regional mobility. As usual, we offer advice to almost everyone involved.

To the new leadership, our editorial ( suggests that they “hit the ground thinking” (not just running), in the hopes they will avoid freshman mistakes that could later keep them off the senior varsity. To the present DC council, we urge they put the bland new not-so-Comprehensive Plan (www.narpac,org/REXDCPLAN.htm#dccowtest) on hold until the new crew has time to answer at least ten basic questions about missing content. And to the Zoning Commission, we recommend they look further ahead to DC’s inevitable downtown growth ( before curtailing future growth on the GWU campus around the Foggy Bottom Metro station. Down with NIMBYs, up with capital pride!



DC Public Library Events, September 18-20
Debra Truhart,

Monday, September 18, 6:30 p.m., Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, 5626 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Author Catherine Mayo, editor of Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, will discuss works by such Mexican writers as Elena Poniatowska, Carlos Fuentes, Fernando del Paso and others.

Monday, September 18, 7:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 221. The September Project of “coming together and learning from your world” will feature a discussion on the book, Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni. There will also be a photo and book display of "Women in the Middle East."

Monday, September 18, 7:00 p.m., Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R Street, NW. Georgetown Library Book Group. Enhance your reading experience at this monthly group meeting to discuss selected books. For September the selected book title is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Tuesday, September 19, 6:00 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room A-5. Movies for Grown-Ups, The Many Faces of Romance. View the movie, The Notebook, a romantic drama from Nicholas Sparks’ novel, starring Ryan Gosling, Gena Rowlands, and James Garner. Directed by Nick Cassavetes.

Wednesday, September 20, 6:00 p.m., Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R Street, NW, The Fruits of Silence-The Power of Meditation. Learn about the benefits of meditation from the Brahma Kumaris Centre of Washington, DC. DC Public Library is not responsible, nor does it endorse health information given to participants during the program.


New Dates for Master Facilities Plan Community Forums, September 18-28
Marc Borbely,

DC Public Schools has rescheduled four of the eight community forums on the Master Facilities Plan, which start next week.

Planning Area C, at HD Woodson, will be on Wednesday, September 27, 6-8 p.m.; Planning Area D, at Hine JHS, will be on Thursday, September 28, 6-8 p.m.; Planning Area G, at Wilson SHS, will be on Thursday, September 21, 6-8 p.m.; Planning Area H, at Clark ES, will be on Friday, September 22, 6-8 p.m. The other four dates are still the same: Planning Area A, Tuesday, September 19, Savoy ES, 2400 Shannon Place, SE; Planning Area B: Monday, September 18, Kramer MS, 1700 Q Street, SE; Planning Area E: Monday, September 25, Brookland ES, 1150 Michigan Avenue, NE; Planning Area F: Tuesday, September 26, Francis JHS, 2425 N Street, NW.

The full DCPS Master Facilities Plan is now posted online at (click on Master Facilities Plan). Among other things, the plan lays out which schools DCPS is planning to modernize and when, where the DCPS Central Administrative Offices would be moved to, what special combined campuses DCPS is planning to develop, which schools will be closed and when, and how much money DCPS is planning to spend for each modernization. There’s a lot to digest and think about. To take part in E-mail conversations about this over the next few weeks, please join the School Modernization Campaign listserv, at


National Building Museum Events, September 24-25
Lauren Searl,

Sunday-Monday, September 24-25. Special program, inter-school student design competition. Design charrette Sunday, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; awards ceremony Monday, 6:00 p.m. Teams of students from the Washington, DC, area’s four accredited schools of architecture will participate in a day-long design competition held in the Museum’s Great Hall. Each team will consist of one student from each school. Museum visitors can view this charrette — an intensive design session — in progress, as the teams work on a design project announced that morning. Winners of the juried competition will be announced at an award ceremony and reception at the Museum on Monday, September 25. Free drop-in program. The award ceremony and reception on September 25 require registration. To register, contact AIA/DC at 667-1798 or E-mail

Monday, September 25, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Spotlight on Design: Wingardh Architects and House of Sweden. This month, the House of Sweden will officially open its doors in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. Reflecting a Scandinavian simplicity, the modernist glass-and-wood-clad building is designed by the Swedish architectural firm Wingardh Architects. Principals Gert Wingardh and Tomas Hanson will present the firm’s design concept for this new embassy -- their first major US commission -- which combines diplomatic and cultural functions in one transparent building. The discussion will be moderated by G. Martin Moeller, National Building Museum senior vice president and curator. They will also discuss their work, including the Science Center in Gothenburg and the chancellery at the Swedish Embassy in Berlin. Following the lecture, the two will sign copies of their books. This program is presented with the kind assistance of the Embassy of Sweden. $12 Museum and House of Sweden members; $17 nonmembers; $5 students. Prepaid registration required. Register at Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.



Mentor Talented DC Youth with Higher Achievement
Martine Shorter,

DC’s award-winning academic enrichment program, Higher Achievement, is in need of volunteer teaching mentors. This is a chance to give well-deserved academic opportunities to motivated kids who are under-served by their schools, their circumstances, and their neighborhoods.

Work with up to three gifted DC middle-school students from 6:00-8:00 p.m. one evening per week. You can mentor either Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday night — just one night or all three. Mentoring in literature, math, or technology, you’ll experience what thousands already have: the amazing feeling of making a difference in a young person’s life! Our success is proven: after nine months 56 percent of our students improve one letter grade in English while 47 percent improve one letter grade in math and over 75 percent increase substantively on their standardized tests. C’mon, make a difference in the life of a bright scholar! There are four centers located in Washington DC. The local center is at Stuart Hobson Middle School, located in Ward 6.

Please go to and click “volunteer” to apply. Consider giving two hours of your week to this influential cause!



House Numbers
Tom Carmody,

One of the last pieces of my house renovation is to replace the faded street numbers on the transom over my front door. Any suggestions as to a store that sells decals or an inexpensive sign painter who can do the job?


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