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When it comes to the issue of refugee resettlement, Mayor Dave Kleis couldn’t be more wrong. Mayor Kleis has said that it’s unconstitutional for the City Council to get involved in resettlement matters. This LTE repeats that belief when it says “Kleis went so far as to call this unconstitutional when former council member Jeff Johnson pushed a similar line. City councils have no business or right to police the free movement of people within the United States, nor do cities set federal immigration policy.”

This mush is misguided at best. Let’s set some things straight. First, the federal government sets immigration and asylum policy. The “United States Refugee Act of 1980” still sets the policy. What Mayor Kleis gets wrong is thinking that city councils and states aren’t allowed any input into how migrant policy is implemented. Over the weekend, someone sent me information of a court case that deals with this. I wrote about that information in this post. Here’s the important part:

According to the press release announcing the lawsuit, Judicial Watch said “In October 2016, Judicial Watch made public 128 pages of documents it obtained from the mayor of Rutland, Vermont, showing a concerted effort by the mayor and a number of private organizations to conceal from the public their plans to resettle 100 Syrian refugees into the small southern Vermont town. The mayor and resettlement organizations shrouded the plan in such secrecy that not even the town’s aldermen were informed of what was taking place behind closed doors.”

Here’s what happened when the mayor and the State Department tried hiding information from that city council:

The aldermen eventually wrote to the U.S. Department of State protesting the plan and opened an investigation into the mayor’s actions.

Looking into refugee resettlement isn’t unconstitutional, especially when Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote into the bill that required the State Department to talk with local units of government before the fact.

That’s called collaboration. That’s the opposite of unconstitutional. It doesn’t require the federal government to relinquish its authority of setting immigration policy. It doesn’t require city councils to be silent ‘victims’ of federal overreach. Instead, it requires both levels of government to work together. I’d love hearing Mayor Kleis explain how that’s unconstitutional.

Finally, what Councilman Johnson proposed was a resolution that proposed a moratorium. He didn’t propose an ordinance requiring a moratorium on the refugee resettlement program. Since when is it unconstitutional for city councilmembers to state their opinions on federal policies?

When it comes to “listening to both sides,” it is quite clear that Brandmire is the one not listening. I suggest he go back and read Kleis’s comments for reference, and review the statements made by council members about previous attempts to limit refugees moving to St. Cloud. There have also been local events that specifically addressed the costs, though it’s clear from his column that cost is not the real issue – culture is.

Councilman Johnson’s resolution dealt strictly with primary resettlement. It didn’t (and couldn’t) deal with secondary resettlement. It would be wise if this person actually paid attention to what was actually discussed instead of worrying about straw-man arguments that were never made.

In this Strib article, Strib reporter Kelly Smith quotes St. Cloud City Councilman Dave Masters as saying “This one group [C-Cubed] doesn’t speak for all residents. I think we need to come together to work together to make St. Cloud a better place.”

This is the same Dave Masters who was offended when citizens showed up to a September City Council meeting wearing red caps that said “Make St. Cloud Great Again.” At the time, Masters insisted that St. Cloud was already great. (That sounds like Steve Laraway, doesn’t it?) How can a city with one-fourth of its people living below the poverty level be great?

A regular reader of LFR sent me some crime statistics comparing St. Cloud’s crime rates with Sartell’s crime rates. Here’s that graphic:

According to these statistics, violent crime per 100,000 people is about double in St. Cloud what it is nationally. With a high violent crime rate and exceptionally high poverty rate, how can Mssrs. Laraway and Masters tell people that St. Cloud is a great place to live?

Frankly, we need to fire all of these delusional politicians and replace them with people who don’t buy rose-colored glasses in bulk. I’d keep George Hontos and the 2 newly-elected city councilmembers and fire the rest — including Mayor Kleis. This isn’t a situation where a little tinkering around the edges will suffice. It’s a situation where real leadership and time-tested policies are required.

Carol Lewis, Jeff Goerger and Kleis must go. Ditto with Laraway and Masters. Eliminate any of these politicians’ supporters, too. We don’t need more of the same failed policies. If you’re interested in rebuilding St. Cloud and turning it into a prosperous city once again, it’s time to step forward. If you think that things are just fine as they are, I’d suggest that you consider spending more time with your family.

Mayor Kleis and the City Council are putting together the 2019 City budget so they want to hear from its citizens. Of course, that doesn’t mean they want to hear from everyone. They definitely don’t want to hear from the citizens who are collecting signatures to put a petition on the ballot.

A “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot.” According to Matt Staehling, the city administrator, the “initiative petition does not meet the legal criteria of an initiative pursuant to our city charter, state statute and long established case law in the state of Minnesota.” That’s too bad for Mr. Staehling because the Minnesota State Supreme Court disagrees with him.

A citizen watchdog group just handed the city of Bloomington an embarrassing loss at the Minnesota Supreme Court. The case started over the rights of residents of the Twin Cities suburb to choose their own garbage hauler. But more broadly the unanimous 6-0 ruling upholds the standing of citizens in home rule charter cities to bring petitions and place legislation on the ballot apart from and in opposition to the city council.

Staehling’s argument is that resolutions aren’t legislation, therefore, they can’t be put on the ballot.

Greg Joseph, the citizens’ attorney, said “What the ruling today says is that cities can adopt a home rule charter and that governs what happens in that city, period. And voters can go around the city, they’re not subservient to it.”

The taxpayers are getting hurt financially by the federal government not picking up the full tab for the Refugee Resettlement Program as required by the Refugee Act of 1980. The City Council acted irrationally last November by passing Jeff Goerger’s ‘Welcoming Community’ resolution. A significant number of St. Cloud residents were prevented from speaking against Goerger’s resolution that night. Why shouldn’t they have the right to put their petition on the ballot? (Notice that the ruling didn’t limit the petition to just legislation.)

Further, it’s rather hypocritical for Mayor Kleis to sit silent on this. In my past conversations, Kleis identified himself as welcoming hearing from the citizens, whether it’s in the form of ballot referenda or whether it’s in the form of town hall meetings. Kleis loves townhall meetings so much, in fact, that he’s got his own bus so he can get around and talk to people in their neighborhoods:

Mayor Kleis, since you love hearing from the people, it’s time to exhibit some leadership and get the petition on the ballot if they collect the required number of signatures. The citizens are tired of being ignored by this City Council. They’re tired, too, that jackasses like Dave Masters object to hearing from his constituents and that Carol Lewis makes rulings that violate prior Minnesota State Supreme Court rulings.

If people like Masters and Lewis think that they don’t have to listen to their constituents and that they’re above the Constitution, it’s time to fire them so they don’t have constituents.

Finally, it’s important to show up Monday night and tell Mayor Kleis and the 5 ostriches how you want your money spent.

Dave Kleis’s argument in this article is particularly flimsy. First, let’s start with what started the fight. It starts in the opening paragraph by saying a “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot. But some city officials say that would be illegal.”

Later, the article states “Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.”

Actually, this initiative is the direct result of the city council’s mishandling of Councilman Johnson’s resolution and the disrespect shown to the people by Councilman Goerger. The night that Councilman Goerger presented his resolution, the City Council intended to ambush Councilman Johnson and the people. Councilman Goerger’s resolution was given to the Council literally minutes before the vote. Discussion was limited at best. Later, Councilman Laraway called the question in an attempt to stop debate. The vote was taken on whether to end debate.

In her confusion, Council President Lewis adjourned the meeting without voting on the resolution. Councilman Johnson’s resolution wasn’t seriously debated. Further, people supporting Councilman Johnson’s resolution never got the chance to testify.

It was the most disgusting, chaotic City Council meeting I’ve ever watched. Council President Lewis looked as confused as Speaker Kelliher did on the final night of the 2007 legislative session. That night, Kelliher looked dazed and confused. But I digress.

Finally, Kleis’s argument is flimsy. Here’s what he said:

“To me, the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It gives only Congress that authority. It’s not the state. It’s certainly not the county or the city,” he said.

What Mayor Kleis is ignoring is 8 U.S. Code 1522(b), which states quite clearly that “The director shall develop and implement in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and state and local governments policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.”

Without question, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to work with local units of government. In fact, without that ability, it’d be impossible to smoothly administer the laws Congress enacts. Mayor Kleis knows this.

Then there’s this:

Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.

What a pile of BS. Shame on Mayor Kleis for making that flimsy argument. First, I won’t dispute the fact that immigration and refugee resettlement policy is set by the federal government. What I’ll passionately dispute is Mayor Kleis’s statement that this isn’t a city issue. It’s costing city taxpayers money. If Mayor Kleis wants to argue that there isn’t a cost to the city budget, I’ll passionately dispute that, too. Does he really want to argue that there isn’t a cost to the City for health inspections of refugee-owned restaurants? Will he argue that there aren’t any law enforcement costs related to refugees?

Just because there isn’t a line item that’s titled ‘Health Inspections — Refugees’ doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost associated with it.

Further, saying that there isn’t a cost with educating refugees, while not officially on the City’s operating budget, is foolish. How much property taxes do city residents pay to ISD 742 to pay for translators and English learning for refugees?

Mayor Kleis, why shouldn’t citizens have a say in such matters? It isn’t like you’re opposed to taking federal money for other things. Why are you opposed to telling the federal government that it has to pay for the people it dumps in our laps? It’s that or they reform the law so that it requires Volags to pick up the entire cost associated with resettled refugees.

If taxpayers pay taxes that support refugees, then we damn well better have the right to air our grievances. In fact, the Constitution gives us that exact right. It’s called the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Mayor Kleis, you should ask one of your legal eagles whether it’s legal to restrict the people’s ability to address the city government in terms of their grievances. If they’re honest with you, they’ll tell you that restricting the petition process to only ordinances is unenforceable because it violates the First Amendment.

We The People retain that right. That right isn’t given to us by the government. It’s given to us by “Nature’s God.”

Last night, the St. Cloud City Council disgraced itself by silencing a citizen. Specifically, Councilman John Libert, who is up for re-election this year, objected to Councilman Jeff Johnson recognizing a speaker. If you read my article last night, you know that the speaker Councilman Johnson wanted to recognize is John Palmer, a retired professor at St. Cloud State. Dr. Palmer holds the title of Professor Emeritus.

Last night, a faithful reader of LFR sent me a copy of the changing rules of order for the City Council. Saying that they reflect an autocratic mindset sounds over-the-top. The history and the detailed rules say something else. For instance, Rule No. 16 of the City Council Rules of Order “through August 2017” said “Recognition of Speakers a) Any member may recognize any person for the purpose of addressing the Council. Said recognition shall terminate upon motion passed by a majority vote of members present.”

By the Dec. 11, 2017 Study Session, Rule 16 had morphed into “Recognition of Speakers: a) Any member, at a regular council meeting, may recognize any person for the purpose of providing testimony or addressing the Council on a specific agenda item being considered by Council. Said recognition shall terminate upon motion passed by a majority vote of members present. Such recognition may also be extended at council study sessions with the consent of the majority of members present.”

Last night, a different rule was in place:

Recognition of Speakers: a) Any member, at a regular council meeting, including study sessions, may recognize any person, without objection, for the purpose of providing testimony or addressing the Council on a specific agenda item being considered by Council. Said recognition shall terminate upon motion passed by a majority vote of members present.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the right to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Dr. Palmer had the right to “petition the Government” and address their grievances. Had this happened in August, Dr. Palmer would have had the right to address the Council, though I suspect that Council President Lewis still would have improperly shut him down. She, along with the other ostriches, haven’t hesitated in restricting citizens’ speech rights if it’s speech they don’t agree with. What’s most infuriating is the fact that the rules that were in place last night weren’t approved by the City Council nor were they voted on in this form.

Think about that. Dr. Palmer was silenced by the city council president after she agreed with one of the city councilmembers who cited a rule that wasn’t voted on and that’s likely unconstitutional. Such reckless regard for the rules lead to anarchy like we saw last night. This is what that looked like last night:

Compare the St. Cloud City Council’s behavior with the behavior in this article:

“I feel like justice was finally served,” said Robin Hensel, whose refusal to move her chair at a 2013 Little Falls City Council meeting was at the heart of the court’s decision. Hensel, a grandmother and peace activist who frequently protests at Camp Ripley, said she never thought she would actually get charged when she moved a folding chair to the open space between the public galley and the City Council’s dais.

This is the major takeaway from that incident:

In its ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with Hensel, saying: “The statute is broad and ambiguous, prohibiting any conduct or speech that ‘disturbs an assembly or meeting,’ whether expressive or not. An individual could violate the statute by, for example, wearing an offensive t-shirt, using harsh words in addressing another person, or even raising one’s voice in a speech.”

The Founding Fathers, aka the men who wrote the Constitution, wanted more speech, not less. They didn’t want speech being oppressed. They rebelled against that in their Declaration of Independence.

When Carol Lewis and John Libert silenced a retired professor, they trampled on a citizen’s right to free speech. What’s most alarming is that they silenced a man even though they didn’t know what he was about to say. It’s time to fire these autocrats the next time they’re up for re-election. It’s time to fire them because they’re autocrats, not constitutionalists.

Finally, Mayor Kleis bears some responsibility, too. As Dr. Palmer highlighted in the comments last night, Mayor Kleis didn’t fight against the constitutional missteps that happened last night. That can’t happen again. There’s never a time when the Constitution shouldn’t be defended. Last night, Mayor Kleis missed an opportunity to defend the Constitution.

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Saying that Mayor Kleis made a major mistake in selling city park land to Costco is understatement. The city councilmembers who voted to approve the sale should be terminated the next time they’re up for re-election. Ditto with Kleis. George Hontos’ op-ed explains things perfectly.

Hontos writes “First, the sale of 18.56 acres of city park land for Costco for $3.5 million was a give away that the mayor could have prevented. The city had an independent professional appraiser determine the land had a value of over $5 million. Back in Jan. 2018, before any purchase agreement was signed with Costco, a local developer offered the city $6.5 million, but the Mayor rejected this offer, saying it was too late in the process.”

Mayor Kleis isn’t the only person who should get criticized. Later, Hontos wrote “There was nothing stopping the Mayor from calling for a bidding process. Just as disappointing were the actions of my cohorts on the city council, there was nothing stopping them from voting the Costco offer down and calling for a bidding process. But they did not do so. Why? What happened to the mayor and city council’s fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers? Now they have given a deep discount on some of the most valuable commercial property left in our city.”

Mayor Kleis has touted himself as fiscally conservative. This transaction proves that he isn’t. This transaction proves that he isn’t that good of a negotiator. Then there’s this:

Second, a highly taxpayer-subsidized “affordable” housing project was approved and again I voted against this. Not that I am against affordable housing, but because of the way this project was billed as helping the affordable housing needs of our community. The developer and city staff billed this project to be one of the nicest apartment buildings in the area. The rents are so out of sync with market rate units. This project has a one bedroom apartment starting at $950 per month. After going on apartments.com I canvassed 30 local apartment buildings with one bedrooms. The average rent as advertised was $699.33 and not one was listed at $950. The majority of the city council, along with the support of city staff, has allowed a private developer to extract significant public assistance from taxpayers all in the name of affordable housing.

Providing affordable housing isn’t a core function of city, county or state government. Period. The government should keep its nose out of this stuff.

PS- The people that voted for the Costco transaction and the affordable housing need to be run off the City Council ASAP.

Now that Electrolux has officially announced that it’s moving to South Carolina, it’s time Minnesota admitted what Minnesotans have known for years. It’s time Minnesota, especially the DFL, admitted that we aren’t competitive with other states.

This isn’t shocking in that Minnesota’s taxes are far too high. Gov. Dayton’s tax-the-rich administration brought this on. The phony-baloney award that Minnesota received is meaningless. According to the award, Minnesota is “the 2nd-strongest state in the union.” The thing about the award is that they don’t consider whether Minnesota is competitive from a business standpoint.

Minnesota’s DFL politicians have insisted that all that’s been needed to have a great economy is a great investment in education. In the 1970s, that was enough. This is the 21st Century. That isn’t enough anymore. Other states have well-trained workforces, too. Unlike Minnesota, though, other states, like South Carolina where Electrolux is moving to, have low taxes and minimal regulations. South Carolina’s policies invite people to the state.

Mayor Dave Kleis painted this the best he could, saying “It’s significant. It’s one of our largest employers. It’s not welcome news, but it’s something where we can coordinate with a number of folks to find employment before the end of two years.”

Minnesota has 2 options to change this. If Minnesotans keep giving the DFL any of the levers of power in St. Paul, we won’t become competitive anytime soon. The other option is to elect a reform-minded Republican governor and maintaining reform-minded Republican majorities in the state House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate.

If Minnesota doesn’t elect pro-growth legislators and a pro-growth governor, Electrolux won’t be the last company leaving.

The Democrats’ battle cry on all things migration and immigration has been ‘that’s not who we are’. Democrats don’t tell taxpayers whether we can afford to accept more refugees. They simply tell us that it’s imperative that the U.S. accept tens of thousands of refugees each year.

When President Trump said halt!, Lutheran Social Services screamed. As I’ve written about before refugee resettlement is how they make the money that pays their executives’ lucrative salaries. At the time, I wrote “LSS gets paid $1,000 for each refugee it finds a home for. This year, LSS will get $225,000 to resettle refugees. That doesn’t sound like humanitarian work. That’s what a lucrative racket sounds like.”

Public servants like St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson has tried to find out how much refugee resettlement costs St. Cloud taxpayers. For being fiscally responsible, the special interests have criticized him constantly. Thankfully, Johnson is about to get some answers:

Did you know that welfare spending in Minnesota is going up about 20 percent or more a year? K-12 budgets are ballooning, as well. All we have is a promise that the Office of Legislative Auditor is going to tell lawmakers in 2018 what costs are currently tracked, so lawmakers can presumably order HHS and other state agencies to begin tracking the costs.

Think of that last statement. At present, lawmakers haven’t told state agencies to track the costs of refugee resettlement. Here’s why that’s important:

Think about this a minute. From 2002-2014, there’s been an outmigration of Minnesota-born people. While that’s been happening, there’s been a strong inmigration of people born in other countries, sometimes hitting 15,000 international-born refugees.

Further, let’s remember that Minnesota’s welfare spending is increasing by 20% per year. What math-minded person thinks that’s sustainable? It’s one thing if a minor department’s budget increases by 10-15% per biennium for a couple biennia. That’s something that we can probably absorb without running a major deficit. The HHS budget is the second biggest line item in the state budget, behind only K-12 Education. Astronomical increases to the second-biggest department in Minnesota’s budget isn’t sustainable.

Our reigning elite, including so-called feminists, have ignored the pleas and shouted down the concerns of Americans who dare to wonder out loud how to deal with incoming cultures that openly reject religious tolerance, profess an allegiance to Sharia law, practice polygamy and mutilate their daughters. These are not the loser racists who show up in ridiculous man-boy outfits to rant and rave at alt-right gatherings. These are good, decent Americans who wonder, “What about my culture? Does that get any respect?”

This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s a bipartisan issue. Businesspeople from both parties love cheap labor. If they have to drive the middle class out of Minnesota while importing low-skill international workers that they pay a pittance, then that’s what they’re willing to do.

That isn’t to say that all businesspeople think that way. They don’t. I’m just identifying the fact that there are some entrepreneurs who do think that way. Often, they’re found in the hospitality and meat-packing industries.

The point is simple: importing thousands of international refugees isn’t sustainable. Politicians that tell us otherwise are either lying or they’re too stupid to serve us properly.

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When the ISD 742 promised to “repurpose” the Tech High School and turn it into the School District’s office, people didn’t imagine that the District would betray them. That’s what they did, though. Now, the District wants to transfer that property to the City of St. Cloud.

Matt Demczyk’s article states that “St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis says he and St. Cloud Schools Superintendent Willie Jett have come up with a proposal to have the district transfer the school and grounds to the city once the district vacates the property to move into the new Tech High School.”

Demczyk continues by quoting Mayor Kleis as saying “We are proposing to both the school board and city council that District 742, when it vacates Tech in 2019, that all of that property is conveyed to the city, so the city can plan in conjunction with the neighborhood the redevelopment of that site. And we’ve gone through this process many times where we will set, with the neighborhood and community, a process envisioning the best possible use.”

Let’s be clear about something. I don’t trust Willie Jett at all and I don’t trust Dave Kleis that much, either. I agree that the City has more tools to use and that they’ve gone through this process before. This is prime real estate. It should be zoned commercial so we can start getting property tax revenue from it. Since the City Council has to vote on the Jett-Kleis negotiations, they have the right to put stipulations on how the property can be used.

There’s little question that the planning board won’t want restrictions put on it. That’s tough. Since the property belongs to the people, the people should have a say in the matter. If the property isn’t put back on the property tax rolls and if the property doesn’t meet with the people’s approval, the Jett-Kleis initiative should be rejected.

Kleis says the city doesn’t want to hurt the character of the neighborhood, and will work with community members as plans are drawn up to renovate the historic part of the building. The Mayor is hoping city council and the school board sign off on the proposal in the next month or so.

If the people get what they want, we’ll sign off on the initiative. If we don’t get what we want, the City and the District will have its hands full. It’s time the District, the Mayor and the Council got a taste of trust but verify.

The St. Cloud City Council just passed an ordinance raising the minimum age to purchase cigarettes to the age of 21. Mayor Kleis made a great presentation, talking about how the United States Constitution was amended in 1972 in less than 3 months. Mayor Kleis noted that the 26th Amendment was passed unanimously in the Senate and with only a handful of dissenting votes in the House of Representatives. It took the states only 3 months to ratify the constitutional amendment. The text of the 26th Amendment statesSection 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

After hearing compelling testimony from the community, City Council President Lewis, Councilman Laraway, Councilman Hontos and Councilman Masters still voted with the CentraCare lobbying unit. One testifier was Mark Fritz, the owner of E-Cig Emporium in St. Cloud. His testimony was blunt and to the point. He said “Your ordinance will not stop them. You need to recognize all you’re doing is hurting your local businesses.”

The good news is that Mayor Kleis has already announced that he’ll veto the ordinance, saying “I can’t support it and I won’t sign it.” Thanks to Kleis’s veto, St. Cloud stayed away from becoming a total supporter of nanny statism.

The truth is that the City Council is approaching this the wrong way. They’re trying to limit supply when they should be trying to limit demand. If you don’t reduce demand for cigarettes, limiting where young people can purchase cigarettes won’t have a significant impact. It’s the rule of the forbidden fruit. If you tell someone they can’t have something, that thing quickly becomes the thing they want most.

One of the testifiers noted that cigarette smoking has dropped each year for a long time. It isn’t the problem health organizations make it out to be. That isn’t saying we shouldn’t try reducing it more. It’s that we should try reducing smoking through educating people, then trusting them to make an informed decision. People who are old enough to sign a contract are certainly old enough to make an informed decision. Based on their votes, Lewis, Laraway, Hontos and Masters disagreed with that principle.

St. Cloud State students should remember that these councilmembers think these students aren’t able to make informed decisions the next time that quartet is up for re-election.

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