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Apparently, Tina Smith thinks that she can win her special election by peddling the latest DFL BS about the Trump-Russia nothing burger. She might be able to gin up enthusiasm with the DFL’s far-left base with that but I’d doubt that thoughtful people care a whit about the investigation. I’m betting that people will be more interested in interrogating Ms. Smith over why she voted for shutting down the government on Friday night, then voting to reopen the government on Monday, especially considering that the votes were literally on the identical bill.

Further, I’m betting that voters will want to know whether she supports President Trump’s immigration framework that would give 1,800,000 illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship in exchange for the appropriation of money to built President Trump’s border wall and ending chain migration. Will Ms. Smith represent the DACA recipients she claims to care about or will she vote to keep the issue alive for this year’s campaign? In other words, will she represent her constituents? Or the special interests that fund her campaign?

“The report that President Trump sought to fire Robert Mueller—the man leading the Trump-Russia investigation—is profoundly disturbing, to say the least,” Smith’s statement continued. “I plan to support measures that would help protect this investigation from further political interference.”

First, the firing didn’t happen. Why be worried about something that didn’t happen? It isn’t like Smith doesn’t have truly important things to do. She’s got immigration reform to think through. She’s got to decide whether she’ll support lifting the spending caps on the military. BTW, the military got hollowed out thanks to Sen. Franken’s votes. Will she fix what he broke?

The New York Times reported Thursday night that Trump had ordered a White House lawyer to fire Mueller, but backed down after the attorney, Don McGahn, threatened to resign. If carried out, the firing would likely have created an extraordinary political crisis.

A significantly different version of the story is now making the rounds. In that newer article, it’s being reported that President Trump asked McGahn what would happen if he fired Mueller. McGahn replied that it would create more headaches for the President. McGahn then recommended that President Trump drop the idea, which apparently happened.

It isn’t a big deal for the President to have expressed frustration with the Mueller investigation. Mueller’s team is filled with biased ‘investigators’ who wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. It’d be a miracle if a person wasn’t upset with the team Mueller picked.

Here’s a point worth considering: Smith is more upset with something that didn’t happen than she’s been about the abuse of residents in Minnesota’s elder care facilities. Forgive me but why isn’t Smith upset about something that’s actually happened? Why isn’t she upset about that crisis? When you watch this video, I want you to think about the questions you’d ask if your parents were subject to this abuse:

Ponder what Sen. Housley said:

It snowballed over the Dayton administration and was completely ignored and was brushed completely under the table so I think there needs to be some apologies made and some accountability taken.

I’ll be clear. Much of this happened while Tina Smith was Lieutenant Governor, a time when she paraded around the state doing ribbon cuttings, etc. Why didn’t Smith dig into this crisis rather than be Gov. Dayton’s PR person? Is it because Smith prefers the role of PR spokesperson over the responsibility of fixing things?

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The DFL hasn’t hidden their support for public employee unions like AFSCME, SEIU and MAPE. That means they’ve supported the things described in this article. What’s outlined in this article, though, seems more like highway robbery than representation.

For instance, “Labor unions in a handful of states have been able to take a portion of [Medicaid payments paid to PCAs] by organizing all the personal caregivers as one bargaining unit. Lawmakers in those states have allowed the practice by implementing policies that classify the caregivers as public employees – but only for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

The previous paragraph describes who these PCAs are, saying “Medicaid funds can be provided to personal caregivers who care for an elderly and disabled individual. The caregiver in most cases is related to their client. It’s a system that allows for personalized treatment and oftentimes it allows families to care for loved ones. But it’s also a system that has enriched unions.”

The unions have enriched themselves to the tune of “$200 million annually from Medicaid funds through personal caregivers.” These aren’t public employees. They’re relatives. The union collects their dues but the relatives don’t get the benefits that the unions bargain for. What part of that sounds justifiable?

Here’s what happened in Minnesota:

The union practice exists in states like California, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut Minnesota lawmakers, for instance, allowed a state union to organize Personal Care Providers (PCA) as a single bargaining unit by passing a law dictating they are state employees simply because they collect Medicaid funds. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton tried to do the same in 2011 through an executive order, but it failed in the courts.

The same bill that allowed unionization of in-home child care providers also authorized the unionization of family-based PCAs. Here’s part of the committee debate on that legislation:

Rep. Mahoney didn’t tell the truth. The union dues get taken out of money paid by government to in-home child care providers and PCAs. With PCAs, that money comes from Medicaid. These aren’t wages. They’re support payments paid to help families provide care for family members who otherwise might be housed in nursing homes or mental institutions. The state is actually saving money as a direct result of this program.

The family member is subsidized to care for family members because they’ve given up their jobs. That’s essentially a reimbursement paid in exchange for helping the state save money. That isn’t a wage.

“Medicaid will pay for homecare services for the elderly and disabled,” Nelsen told InsideSources. “The SEIU and AFSCME, back in the late 90s, when union membership was generally declining saw these workers, and this pool of Medicaid dollars, as a potential organizing opportunity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue to an extent during the 2014 case, Harris v. Quinn. The justices ruled that Illinois home care providers couldn’t be forced to pay dues because they weren’t technically state employees. Nelsen argues that unions and state leaders have found ways around those restrictions. “The states and unions have worked hand and glove to design a series of workarounds to the Harris v. Quinn decision, and to keep people paying dues whether they want to or not,” Nelsen said. “There are literally hundreds and thousands of these care providers around the country paying union dues to the SEIU and AFSCME against their will.”

In Minnesota, PCAs have petitioned the government to hold a decertification vote. If it’s held, the largest unionized bargaining unit will be decertified. The vote won’t be close.

When the unionization vote happened for in-home child care providers, it was rejected by a 1,014-392 margin. There’s no reason to think this vote won’t be similarly lopsided.

Thus far, Acting Health Commissioner Dan Pollock has said the right things. It isn’t just a matter of saying the right things, though, like when he said “accelerating investigations of abuse and reducing the huge backlog of uninvestigated complaints will be his “first, second and third priority.”

I recall the Obama administration making the same promises after the VA scandal broke. The promises sounded appropriate. The actions didn’t match the promises. At this point, I’ll just say that there’s lots of pressure on Pollock because it’s his responsibility to clean this mess up.

Since taking the job, Pollock said ““We have heard the message. This needs to be resolved. Families want the investigations to happen in a timely way and the only way that’s going to be possible is by doing this restructuring.”

I’d love hearing how that’s going to happen, especially considering this information:

The move comes weeks after a Minneapolis Star Tribune series exposed widespread elder abuse in Minnesota nursing care facilities that for years was systematically ignored.

All too frequently, complaints were thrown away without people conducting even a preliminary investigation. Frankly, I’m skeptical that anything meaningful will happen this year. It isn’t that I’m skeptical of Pollock. It’s that I’m skeptical that they can pull together the investigators and other resources in time to make a difference. How do you change a culture like this?

This isn’t just about investigating. It’s about firing people who are put in charge of caring for people that can’t care for themselves who aren’t interested in caring for the people they’re charged with caring for. Frankly, in this instance, it’s about charging them with crimes, too.

Simply put, this is what’s wrong with facilities that aren’t interested in providing professional care to its patients. Further, I don’t trust Gov. Dayton’s appointees at this point anymore. Too frequently, they’re political allies rather than qualified people.

This LTE explains in very personal terms why tax simplification is required. A few paragraphs into the LTE, it says “But the tax reform proposal introduced by the U.S. House could undo much of that success. It breaks a bipartisan deal agreed to at the end of 2015 to phase down the wind energy Production Tax Credit by 2020. House lawmakers are looking to re-write the rules in the middle of the game, and that puts our economy and U.S. workers at risk.”

There’s no disputing that the new tax legislation will put some businesses at risk. Entrepreneurship requires taking risks. Why should a renewable energy business not face risk but farmers live with the prospect of getting wiped out every minute of their lives?

It’s time that the federal government got out of the corporate welfare business. If a product is a quality product and it’s essential to enough people, it will succeed. If it isn’t that essential, people might ignore it, in which case the company will soon be bankrupt. That’s capitalism and it’s the best economic model in the history of mankind. Here’s what Milton Friedman thinks of capitalism:

Congress developed the PTC to help wind developers gain access to the private investment capital they need to build wind farms. That in turn keeps U.S. factory workers busy making new wind turbines, and it keeps construction businesses like ours stay busy installing them. Our workers depend on these orders, and the PTC has helped keep our construction queue full.

What this company is apparently lobbying for is lower corporate tax rates and corporate welfare, too. Taxpayers shouldn’t shoulder the burden on whether a company succeeds or fails.

This is crony capitalism at its worst. For the foreseeable future, companies will introduce studies that highlight the benefits of corporate welfare:

That’s why American wind power added jobs nine times faster than overall economy last year, and keeping the investment policies stable will create an additional $85 billion in economic activity through 2020, according to Navigant Consulting. It will also grow an additional 50,000 American jobs, including more 8,000 jobs at U.S. factories, by the end of President Trump’s first term.

With all due respect, we don’t know that. I’m certainly not willing to trust a self-serving report. Companies that commission these types of reports frequently can’t survive without corporate welfare.

It’s time to cut this cord.

Mike Rothman has announced his immediate resignation as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. In a separate statement, Rothman announced that he will run for the job of Minnesota Attorney General.

MPR’s Tim Pugmire is reporting “Mike Rothman is stepping down as commissioner of the Minnesota Department Commerce and plans to run for state attorney general. Rothman announced his intentions Friday in a resignation letter to Gov. Mark Dayton.”

In his statement, Rothman said “Thank you for the incredible opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota. You placed great trust in me – and every day, I dedicated myself to fulfilling that trust by doing my very best to improve the lives of Minnesotans. I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together.”

Frankly, Rothman was a failure because he was anti-commerce and because he did his utmost to kill the Line 3 Pipeline replacement project. Simply put, he’s an environmental activist. Imagine the destruction he could cause as Minnesota’s Attorney General. That’s a frightening thought.

In his statement, Gov. Dayton said “For nearly seven years, Mike Rothman has devoted himself to protecting consumers, improving the lives of Minnesotans, and ensuring fair regulatory environments for Minnesota’s businesses.” Rep. Kelly Fenton wasn’t that kind, saying “Commissioner Rothman’s tenure was stained by his failure to protect Minnesota consumers and tax dollars. His poor judgment is well documented.”

This KSTP article contains information that Pugmire’s article doesn’t have:

The news comes as the Office of the Legislative Auditor confirmed it had been asked to investigate actions taken by various DOC officials in connection to an investigation into an auto glass company a federal judge ruled was ‘unjustified.’ “As you may know, the case has involved considerable litigation that continues in process,” legislative auditor James Nobles wrote in an email to KSTP. “The case is very complex, and we are reviewing all of the documents related to the legal proceedings at both the state and federal levels.

“In sum, we are at a preliminary stage, and our review will undoubtedly take us into next year. So, yes, we are investigating what happened in the Commerce/Safelight case.” In that case, federal judge Susan Nelson ruled the DOC carried out an “unjustified” investigation into Safelite Auto Glass for its billing practices with insurance companies.

Nelson also said the DOC “initiated a baseless investigation against Safelite based on financially-motivated complaints from competitors.” Further, Nelson said there was testimony from a DOC employees stating “an assistant commissioner made a ‘deal’ to provide information on Safelite in order to ‘get Safelite out of Minnesota.'”

The last thing Minnesota needs is a crooked AG. That being said, Rothman wouldn’t be the first crooked Minnesota AG. Mike Hatch blazed that trail long ago.

Gov. Dayton’s statement is predictable. It’s also BS. Here’s why:

In December 2011, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Community Action of Minneapolis CEO Bill Davis stood side-by-side at a press conference to plead for more federal money to help low-income people pay their heating bills. As the pair made their case in front of the cameras, however, staffers inside the Commerce Department were struggling to figure out how Davis’ nonprofit had already misspent more than $1 million in energy funds.

Commerce analysts had grown increasingly alarmed that money meant to aid the poor was going to people who were not eligible to receive it. Those staffers, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak, say the red flags raised in 2011 were the first alerting Rothman that Davis, his DFL political ally, was mismanaging money from the energy assistance fund run by Commerce. The warnings, they say, were repeated over the years but went nowhere. Rothman would not sever ties with Community Action. Several in the department say they were told the contracts would continue because “the political ramifications are greater than staff would understand,” a characterization Rothman does not dispute.

Gov. Dayton, how can you say that Commissioner Rothman protected consumers or improved Minnesotans’ lives while ignoring Community Action of Minneapolis’ outright corruption? These DFL thieves stole money meant to pay poor people’s heating bills.

Instead of paying poor people’s heating bills, Community Action paid for a trip to New York City for State Sen. Jeffrey Hayden and his wife. They’ve since repaid the money.

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Before getting into this post, let me state without hesitation or equivocation that I won’t defend Roy Moore’s disgusting behavior. Further, I find these women’s stories credible. Finally, I find Judge Moore’s replies to the reporters’ questions to be shifting, defensive and filled with platitudes.

John Kass’s column starts by saying “There is a cost to defending Moore. Don’t kid yourselves that there is no cost to it.” Kass continues, saying “But as long as he fights this, even as more women come out with their accounts of what happened years ago and reports surface about how Moore, in his 30s, trolled shopping malls for teen-age girls, there is the temptation for some in the GOP to defend him.”

Don’t count me as one of Moore’s defenders. I won’t defend the indefensible. Based on the steady stream of credible reports of Moore’s behavior, it isn’t difficult to believe that he’s a pervert attempting to hide behind his faith. It’s a disgusting sight for me, especially as a person of faith.

To his credit, Sean Hannity has issued an ultimatum to Judge Moore. I join with Sean Hannity in this ultimatum:

It’s being charitable to say that Judge Moore’s answers have been inconsistent. Frankly, I think he’s been outright dishonest. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon has defended Judge Moore, hinting that the MSM is trying to destroy a conservative. First, let’s admit that Judge Moore isn’t the first conservative that the MSM has attempted to destroy. Let’s also admit that it’s possible that they have a natural anti-conservative bias and still be honest.

When Judge Moore denied ever knowing the then-16-year-old who accused him of rape, I was skeptical, mostly because she was represented by Gloria Allred. That skepticism was erased, though, when the woman produced a yearbook with Judge Moore’s signature attached to it.

He calls all this a lie, threatens to sue The Washington Post and says he’s the victim of the Democrats and the establishment Republicans. His answers seem incomplete and remarkably thin. He signed his name in a girl’s yearbook? He can’t remember the name of the restaurant where he met one of them, where an alleged assault took place?

If Steve Bannon continues defending the indefensible, that’s his right. It’s also stupid. By defending the indefensible, he’s destroying his credibility and the candidates he’s supporting. In the end, that might be Mr. Bannon’s only gift to Republicans during the 2018 campaign cycle.

Republicans have done the right thing in distancing themselves from Moore. Even if they lose that seat to a Democrat, they’ve still done the right thing. This is one of those times when political considerations just aren’t the most important considerations in a person’s life.

It’s time for Moore and Bannon to exit the stage. That’s because they’re both disgusting people who are indefensible.

One of the little-talked-about storylines about Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto controversy is that Gov. Dayton wants the legislature to spend the money appropriated for the Office of Legislative Auditor. According to the OLA’s website, the OLA’s mission is to promote accountability, strengthen legislative oversight, support good management and enhance program effectiveness. Part of the OLA’s statutory authority gives “the Legislative Auditor broad authority to audit state agencies, evaluate public programs, and investigate alleged misuse of public money.”

What is Gov. Dayton hiding? What doesn’t he want audited? Is Gov. Dayton trying to make sure there isn’t enough money left for the OLA to “investigate alleged misuse of public money”? These aren’t trivial matters. Accountability is important.

Gov. Dayton hasn’t made a convincing argument for why the judicial and executive branches have the constitutional authority to tell the legislative branch how to spend money that’s been properly appropriated. I’m confident that that’s because the judicial and executive branches don’t have that authority thanks to something known as the Separation of Powers contained within the Constitution. The legislative branch doesn’t have the authority to rule of the constitutionality of laws. The executive branch doesn’t have the constitutional authority to pass laws. The judicial branch doesn’t have the constitutional authority to tell sign bills into law.

Gov. Dayton is upset that Republicans called him out for attempting to bully the legislature. He insisted that the legislature renegotiate a bill he’d already signed into law. The legislature said no so Gov. Dayton, in another of his hissy fits, acted like the spoiled rich brat that he is.

It isn’t a secret that Gov. Dayton hates cutting taxes. He didn’t hesitate in raising taxes in 2013, too. I think Gov. Dayton’s legacy will be that of a tax raiser and anti-mining environmentalist. That’s a good thing if you’re a Metrocrat but a bad thing if you don’t fit that description. Finally, we know that he didn’t push too hard to clean up corruption when Jeffrey Hayden got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. We know that April Todd-Malmlov didn’t get punished for her corruption. Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen certainly weren’t punished for their participation in the US Bank Stadium Suite ‘promotion’ scandal.

If there was a part of the government that Gov. Dayton would target other than the legislature, it would’ve been the OLA.

When the Minnesota Department of Commerce testified that Enbridge hadn’t shown a need for replacing their Line 3 Pipeline, people scratched their heads. That project is a $7,500,000,000 infrastructure project. It’s difficult to picture a pro-commerce Commerce Department rejecting that type of project. There’s an old saying that I learned during the Watergate investigation. It’s called ‘follow the money’.

According to Mike Rothman’s official bio, “Rothman’s top priorities include consumer protection, a clean energy future, and strong financial and energy sectors for Minnesota’s economy.” In an interview with the Clean Energy Resource Team, Rothman made clear that he wasn’t a disinterested bystander in terms of the government financing clean energy projects. CERT started the interview by asking Rothman “Have the tax credits been important for getting Minnesota to where we are today with wind and solar?” Commissioner Rothman replied “From the vantage point of the Commerce Department, we believe these tax credits have really been central pillars supporting wind and solar development in our state. The ITC enabled solar manufacturers to produce at scale and dramatically cut the costs of modules and other components. It also encouraged a growing base of Minnesota solar installation companies to invest in training and certification while expanding their businesses and creating new jobs.”

In other words, without crony capitalism, wind and solar wouldn’t offer competitive prices. The question I’d ask Commissioner Rothman is whether his prioritizing clean energy had anything to do with his department’s heavy-handed testimony against Enbridge. It isn’t a stretch to think that a person that supports tax credits for wind and solar certainly might support eliminating fossil fuels, too.

This is part of the Commerce Department’s website:

Solar Industry Resources

The state of Minnesota is interested in helping Minnesota-based solar businesses expand and attracting new solar businesses to the state.

From solar manufacturers and system developers and installers to the agencies that help finance solar projects, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help build a strong clean energy economy. The solar industry is booming in Minnesota, and it is positioned for continued growth. With solar policies such as the solar electricity standard and programs like the $15 million a year Made in Minnesota Solar incentive Program, Minnesota is committed to the solar industry.

Based on the Commerce Department’s pro-clean energy statements and their hostility towards fossil fuels, I think it’s entirely reasonable to think that Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department isn’t a neutral arbiter in this fight.

In Part I of this series, I quoted Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, as saying “In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

It isn’t a stretch to think that environmental activists had a special place in Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. The Department’s testimony to the PUC was tilted. The Commerce Department’s personnel indicate a strong pro-clean energy preference. Thanks to the Commerce Department’s anti-pipeline bias, Minnesota is missing out on a major infrastructure project.

Shouldn’t we insist that these types of infrastructure projects get a higher priority? This project would’ve created thousands of jobs. The negative economic impact this rejection will have is disgusting. Stop back Tuesday for more on that aspect of the pipeline.

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When I read this story, I was stunned. According to the story, the “Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) awarded Minnesota Halal Meat & Grocery, 205 East St. Germain Street, $15,308.72 through the Good Food Access Program (GFAP). The store’s owner, Badal Aden Ali, says the store plans to install a dairy cooler, walk-in freezer, produce display case, and shelving. Ali says the grant funds will help address the needs of many of St. Cloud’s refugees and immigrants.”

Later in the article, we’re told that a “total of $150,000 in grant funds has been awarded to projects to purchase equipment and make physical improvements, increasing access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods in underserved and low- and moderate-income communities.”

What I’d like to know is how many similar programs exist within the Human Services and Minnesota Department of Agriculture budgets? How much taxpayer money gets spent each biennium to buy votes? This “store” is less than a mile away from my house. It’s a little hell-hole. It’s been that way since I was in grade school. (I started high school in 1970.)

Before anyone accuses me of being biased against refugees, my position is that I’m opposed to each of these grants.

I’m told that the theory behind these grants exist because the businesses can’t afford the loan to buy the equipment they’ll purchase with this grant money. If these businesses are on that shaky of ground, they should be allowed to fail.

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After writing this post about a proposal to increase affordable housing in the Greater St. Cloud area, I got a call from a loyal reader of LFR. This person highlighted the fact that St. Cloud’s economy used to be built around manufacturers like Franklin and big corporations like Fingerhut. This reader then mentioned the fact that St. Cloud’s economy today is focused on the hospitality and retail industries.

In the past, St. Cloud has made terrible choices for its economy. The Chamber of Commerce shouldn’t get off lightly, either, since they’ve frequently advocated for tourism industry bonding projects. In the end, those things changed St. Cloud from being a blue collar manufacturing town into a tourism mecca. That’s foolish because there are thousands of different tourism meccas in Minnesota.

In Jenny Berg’s article, she wrote that “Hontos said he wants a joint resolution to show interest from other cities.” He might get that resolution passed by the St. Cloud City Council but it’ll die the minute it gets to the Sartell and Sauk Rapids city councils.

Since this affordable housing project started getting publicity, talk has started about voting on a moratorium that would postpone the building of bike trails and city parks until St. Cloud attracts 5 new manufacturing companies to St. Cloud.

The liberal policies that’ve caused St. Cloud’s neighborhoods to deteriorate have led to rising crime rates, too. Mind you, many of these crimes haven’t gotten recorded but they’ve still happened. They’ve been reported. They just haven’t been recorded. We’re left with a city whose economy is like icing on a cake but without a main meal. Economies built around retailers and restaurants are like meals consisting of cake and ice cream but no meat, potatoes or gravy.

Other citizens have told me that getting things approved for construction has gotten more difficult. The City has the right official policies. They just aren’t enforced. The reason I mention this is simple. Why would a major company move to St. Cloud when crime is rising, there’s a shortage of the type of laborers that companies will need and the local economy is built around the hospitality and retail industries?

Dave Kleis has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for these policies. He’s also the chief cheerleader for the airport. He could’ve killed 2 birds with 1 stone by proposing an industrial park built right by a new regional airport. That would have a chance of gaining traction and changing the trajectory of St. Cloud’s economy. That proposal hasn’t been rejected. It’s been ignored instead.

Frankly, it’s time for new leadership in St. Cloud. St. Cloud needs someone who a) isn’t a de facto cheerleader for the Chamber of Commerce, b) doesn’t believe in crony capitalism and c) has a vision to restore St. Cloud’s identity as a blue collar All American city. I’d clean out most of the members of the City Council. I’d pretty much fire the School Board. Finally, I’d fire the SCSU president, too. It’s clear he doesn’t have a plan to turn SCSU around.

Mayor Kleis talks about reviving St. Cloud’s core neighborhoods. Those don’t get built or maintained by restaurant owners.

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