David Lawrence vs Libby Lolli

Readers of this blog know that I supported David Lawrence for DPS superintendent, before the Rhonda Corr debacle and before the Libby Lolli chaos. Lawrence was a DPS grad, an athletic standout, a military veteran, with an entire career in the service of the Dayton community at various levels of increasing responsibility in the system culminating as “Chief of Innovation” at DPS.

The board, under the criminal leadership of Adil Baguirov and the incompetent cast of cronies, “went in another direction” and didn’t even pick Lawrence as a finalist. There were three- Dan Schoer who is not the Superintendent of Springboro and doing incredible things, Dr. Roberson who bailed out of the district under Lolli to be replaced by another queen of chaos. And Corr, who put Lawrence in a corner and gave him a buyout. Lawrence can’t thank her enough in retrospect. He’s been working on his PhD in Educational leadership and last year took the help at Northmoor Elementary, a mile and a half from his home. The school has a solid report card and is looking at the largest incoming class of 2nd graders ever.

Here is the most pertinent fact to consider about David Lawrence in charge: 0 teacher turnover, and 2 new hires for next year.

As to Lolli, I predict that DPS won’t be able to put enough teachers in classrooms next fall to open all buildings. That they had to close WOW (Residence Park Elementary) one day this year because of teachers not showing up, is indicative of the health and morale of the district.

Here I have to pull some quotes from former DPS board member Mario’s facebook posts:

The reason behind the music teacher shuffling has now been communicated to the teachers.

Before I go more into that, I don’t want this message to get lost.

The District botched a huge opportunity to make these teachers feel like they are at the top of their game, a credit to their profession and worth their weight in gold. Instead, they have a number of employees who are angry, saddened, and some actively looking around for something else.

This, more than anything is what frustrates and angers me. This is not a one-off. This is a style of management that emanates from the top down through the administrative ranks. I am perplexed. Who believes that being dismissive and demeaning of any staff person will lead to better results? If that really is an underlying principle, come out of the office and take a look around. Doesn’t seem to be working so far….

I want to quote a parent from another page. “I was looking around my school today seeing the faces of those teachers who will be in a different school year and I realized they are the teachers that get the most hugs, high-fives, and biggest smiles.” She goes on to say that she is confident that they will do well in their new assignments. While they will be missed, she is happy that they will be able to make a positive impact on more children.

The whole post was beautiful, and I hope those teachers will hold onto those words as they move forward.

Shame on the District for not doing the same.


The Superintendent was hired less than three months into the new board members service. I am referring specifically to the new board members because the remaining 3 have been marginalized from the outset.

She was hired without a formal search. So, how did the board determine she was the right person? Was it based on their extensive knowledge of educational reform initiatives and best practices? Or possibly was the decision based on their years of managerial experience which enabled them to identify the appropriate management style to move the district forward? Perhaps they drew on their copious years of involvement in Dayton and identification of community needs. Community input? (By community input I mean also from families of children in the district, not just the business and political powers that be.) No? Hmmm.

I don’t doubt that the Superintendent has qualifications. But it is not enough to say “trust me”.

I strongly advise the Board to start placing a solid emphasis on communication. There is no one out here who does not want this District and our children to succeed. It would be helpful if all parties in charge would recognize that.


The Superintendent makes it seem that there are exciting things going on in Dayton that will draw the best and brightest. Here is the reality in the trenches – I get a private message from a teacher who is hesitant to join the Facebook conversation “in case it would come back to bite me…” His incendiary comments? “One of the best ways to build quality schools is to have a quality principal, teachers, support staff, etc, that are in the same building year after year.”


President Harris, Members of the Board of Education.

You may or may not be aware of the turmoil that has become the everyday, all day experience of many of the DPS staff.

People are waiting for the next shoe to fall. HR personnel come into school mid-day to let teachers know they are being “displaced,” removed from their current position and told to look around to find another placement. These are in addition to the teachers at the previously announced reconstituted and merged schools.

My biggest fear at this point, aside from truly exceptional teachers and administrators actively looking to move to a more stable environment, is the fact that we have struggled for years to fully staff our schools. Where does the Superintendent believe she will find the talent she is looking for, in the numbers she is looking for? Has any thought been given to the notion that morale is in the tank and that anyone worth their salt will take a hard pass at coming to DPS?

I think I speak for many in the DPS community when I say we demand to know the purpose of these changes. We demand to know the plan for moving forward. As our elected representatives, we demand that you begin to act as our representatives, not just promoters of the current administration.

There is a feeling among some that displacements are retaliation for questioning the dictates from Ludlow Street. Music teachers with advanced certification being told they must use 15-year-old textbooks and if their students do not have a book in their hand, they are not learning “music”. Middle school teachers being forced to place their students in a computer based “phonics” intervention program, which is monitored downtown for “compliance.” Have you met a middle school student lately? How engaged and willing to learn do you think they are when they are compelled to pronounce nonsense words to prove they know “ph” sounds like “f”?

There has been a suggestion that these displacements are to staff some of the worst schools with veteran experienced teachers. Theoretically, I am supportive of putting the best teachers in schools with the most need, but they should be wooed, not compelled.

There have been districts which have been turned around by Superintendents who come in with the servant leader style of administration. (Miami School District in Florida). Most recently, in Dayton, under the leadership of Dr. Mack. You are not going to get the results you want for our children if the staff feel they are serfs and not partners in this endeavor.

Why am I relying on Mario for content? Because I could no longer stomach going to these meetings to watch the incompetence of Harris, the arrogance of Al-Hamdani, the sycophant Rhynard and the crony, Wick continue to pay attention to the sociopath Lolli. Walker and Taylor have never had anything credible to add and McManus is as worthwhile as tits on a bull without any support from another board member.

While the FBI is busy investigating the “culture of corruption” in the rest of Dayton government, one of the largest institutions with the biggest budgets is getting off easy, despite 2 of the 4 indicted people getting their political start in the DPS cesspool, Joey Williams and Clayton Luckie.

There is no doubt that the whole hiring of Corr and then Lolli is suspect, as if it was part of a plan to push the district into state takeover so Mayor Nan could get her hands on even more budgets and contracts to steer to her friends and family (I fully expect her and Dayton City Manager Shelly Dickstein to be hauled in wearing shackles in the next round of indictments for contract tampering, pay-to-play etc), but the State halted her plans when they discontinued state takeovers of failing districts.

If I was the FBI I’d be looking closely at any major contracts awarded under Baguirov or land deals- ie the bus deal where he was showing off spreadsheets on acquisition math, to the Caresource deal which we highlighted in “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap.” When they backed away from a levy, only to support Issue 9, warning bells should have gone off- and looking at the donors to issue 9, you’ll see the list of people who were promised contract opportunities in exchange for support.

David Lawerence is exactly what DPS needs, but after the utter chaos under Lolli, he’d have to be insane to consider a return. Dr. Hill, the savior of Belmont, is already shamelessly looking for any position to get out of Dodge as are probably anyone else remotely qualified to do their jobs in DPS.

It’s probably too late to reverse the damage done by this board and their hired hands, but, unless the parents and staff come out in mass to the next board meeting to ask for change, it’s doomed. The meeting is Tuesday, May 28th at 5:30 PM which doesn’t conform to their regular schedule.

If there’s a time to speak up, this is it.

Judges fiddle while Rome burns

The next time they run for office, you might want to consider voting for whomever is running for these judicial seats to replace the following judges: Richard Skelton in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Judges Jeffrey M. Welbaum, Michael T. Hall and Michael L. Tucker all of the 2nd District Court of Appeals.

Oh, that’s right, you’ll never see these judges face an opponent, thanks in part to the “Culture of Corruption” in Montgomery County where the two political parties cut a deal where Judges races are only contested when a seat has been vacated, or if you are appointed, at the end of your first term. After that, you’re in for life thanks to a backroom deal.

Note, Richard Skelton broke that “unwritten rule” when he ran against Judge Frances McGee-Cromartie, daughter of former Dayton Mayor James H. McGee, after she had survived her challenge period. His race was one of the only ones where I saw elections officials step in and try to interfere, complaining that the word “for” wasn’t big enough on his expensive large signs and made him redo them and an early postcard that was sent out.

Why you ask should these judges be sent packing? Well, while they have been protecting the legal profession and it’s strict rules and processes allowing my case against the illegal “School closing task force” the people who very obviously broke the law, and should have been at a minimum punished and at a maximum, removed from office per the infamous Open Meetings Act/Sunshine Law/ORC 121.22 the Dayton Public Schools has continued to devolve into an even bigger shit-show than it was when I was playing watchdog.

Need proof? Despite not even being looked at during the illegal bus tour, DPS is now going to close Residence Park Elementary (AKA WOW) and Dayton Boys Prep, one of the only “magnet” type schools in the system, is going to be turned into a regular old school- named “Roosevelt” disgracing the name of the once proud building that used to stand on the same lot. Yep, to all the proud “Teddy’s” that graduated from that grand building with it’s WPA art, and solid soaring, serious architecture- you will confuse future generations by being represented by a school connected to a pint sized rec center that has a pool that didn’t come close to what they tore down. (btw- the building of all these “new” schools in Dayton was a bonanza not only for the construction companies who wrote the rules- but to the demolition companies at the center of the “culture of corruption” investigation).

The reason, according to Superintendent Doktor, Herr  Elisabeth Lolli? Because “parents and staff failed to market their schools effectively and grow enrollment” (paraphrase- although the quote is out there somewhere). Excuse me? Didn’t your district not only hire the esteemed Ohlmann Group while you were a chief in the district (oh, that’s right- you weren’t even on the selection committee, but your buddy Dr. Markay Winston was) and then you hired a Fahlgren Mortine as well and the new board tried to hire their buddies who ran their campaign Burges and Burges out of Cleveland and… oh, that’s right, you hired the replacement for Marsha Bonhart (who sent an email telling school folks not to email each other because, well, I could public records search it and prove that they were violating the law against private meetings- the OMA- yes, she was THAT stupid) in December, but didn’t renew her contract less than 5 months later. Note, I recommended firing her less than a month in if you read this post.

thumbnail of 2nd district response to reconsider

PDF of response, click image to download entire response

But, the dysfunction extends way past marketing or incompetence. Although the judges don’t care about that at all, all they care about is how I didn’t file my case pro-se correct enough for them and that I wasn’t willing to spend enough of my own money to protect their profession and to hire a lawyer.  They made that abundantly clear when they issued their response to my request for reconsideration on their decision to allow Skelton’s summary judgement to stand (a summary judgement is a court order ruling that no factual issues remain to be tried and therefore a cause of action or all causes of action in a complaint can be decided upon certain facts without trial.).

There are plenty of causes of action to hear this case, but the judges are dead set on helping the law firm that the school board used to use, Subashi and Wildermuth, continue to run up their bill at tax payers expense. The main issue according to the judges is my failure to prove whether people were engaged in “deliberations” while in a meeting that I wasn’t allowed either in, or to record for the record- both of which are violations of the OMA. The claim is that this was an “Information Session” – a nebulous construct of the courts that would totally circumvent the letter of the law and the more important, spirit of the law when it comes to open meetings in Ohio. For this reason, I am now forced to do one of two things- either refile the original lawsuit, being careful to name each and every participant on the task force so that I can force them into court effectively, or appeal to the Supreme Court, to finally get clarity on these so called OMA runarounds the judges think are legal: “Information sessions.” I have 45 days to file in the supreme court.

In case you are new to all of this case, you might want to watch this video we produced “Goodbye Sunshine” that clearly shows multiple violations of the law. It’s made up from hours of actual video that was never admitted into court- because, despite not being able to collect fees or compensation for my time like a lawyer in filing a case where the law states citizens are supposed to challenge their elected officials in court, I’m supposed to reach the exact same level of legal competence for free. Note, in my original filing I quoted the Sunshine Laws Handbook- item 62 of the original filing:

62. Because the law can be difficult for common citizens to apply, the State of Ohio has provided a handbook in common language expressing the intent of the law and before they jump into legalistic lingo, quote the founders of our country who used clearer language: “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when rulers may be concealed from them… [T}o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routines of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man.” Patrick Henry ~see State of Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Publications-Files/Publications-for-Legal/Sunshine-Law-Publications/Sunshine-Laws-Manual.aspx

and 66. “the Open Meetings Act is intended to be read broadly in favor of openness.”

And I also included the following which gets to the crux of the appeal in my original brief:

67. And while the Sunshine Laws handbook includes this nonsense statement: “In evaluating whether particular gatherings of public officials constituted “meetings,” several courts of appeals have opined that the Open Meetings Act “is intended to apply to those situations where there has been actual formal action taken; to wit, formal deliberations concerning the public business.”941 Under this analysis, those courts have determined that gatherings strictly of an investigative and information-seeking nature that do not involve actual discussion or deliberation of public business are not “meetings” for purposes of the Open Meetings Act.942” The public has no way of telling that the meeting was in compliance if it was held in secret, thereby negating any and all semblance of being open.

As to what other stupidity has gone on while this case has dawdled through the courts and Mohamed Al-Hamdani and his wrecking crew have been at work (He was the co-chair of this illegal task force) I’ll have to save for another post, but one look at staff turnover in the year of Dr. Lolli should tell you the district has somehow gone from worst to, well, worse than worse. All while the State has decided to opt out of the responsibility of fixing this mess with their former threat of district takeover.

I’ll have more posts soon, fully sharing some of the dysfunction.


The stupid election

Today was why none of the incumbents should be re-elected.

It requires 500 signatures to run for Dayton City Commission while it only takes 50 to run for Congress. And, you have to collect them in the dead of winter. And, then make sure people write proper- or they don’t count. And, then if more than 4 people pass that bar, there has to be a stupid runoff election like we had today that was ridiculously expensive just to cut one candidate.

The goal was to be in the top 4- and that’s all I wanted. No mailers, no new literature other than some absentee chaser cards. Some new big signs and stakes, and two videos- one of which was banned by Facebook, and some very precisely targeted boosting on FB.

Who did we target? Well, that was the problem- there hadn’t been a primary for Dayton races for so long that the only list was the voters who voted in the Fairchild/Ward race last year. And that wasn’t very many voters. Because we had to boot up the campaign so quick- we didn’t have time to target any new voters, just because the voter data is so wretched.

Turns out only 5.1% or 4500 odd people voted. Many didn’t cast 2 votes.

Tomorrow- voters won’t see a single Esrati sign out. They’ve all been picked up. No garbage anywhere. None of my signs were in medians, or in front of vacant homes or stuck on street corners. I don’t roll like that. I didn’t knock on doors, or ask others to. All I had to do was come in fourth.

It’s a lesson I learned in the Army- define what a win is, and get it with the minimum of risk and waste of resources. There is no prize for coming in third, second or first. In fact, coming in higher would have spooked the incumbents who have access to all of the cash they could ever want or need. Why poke the bear?

Over the next six months I will ask for people to help. You can sign up at www.electesrati.com/act

And, I’ll need donations. You can donate at www.electesrati.com/donate

Congratulations to Valerie Duncan for doing so well for her first race.

Hopefully now, the League of Women’s Voters and the NAACP may even consider having a candidates night or two.

And maybe Dayton voters will ask the incumbents why they haven’t fixed the charter so we don’t waste money like this again.

update- next day, read my first comment with this article.

The Wire: Dayton Edition

It’s been ten years since I binge watched “The Wire” television series. And like most things in Dayton, we’re about ten years behind the rest of the world as we get our own real world version unfolding in front of us. What made “The Wire” great was that it didn’t end each episode with a triumphant close- it just kept adding layers to a story of how sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad. In the end- they both have their own codes that they adhere to, with varying consequences.

Last Tuesday’s indictments were only the first 5 minutes of a show that ran for 5 seasons. I imagine that by the time this investigation of the “culture of corruption” ends, we’ll have just as many story lines and almost as many bodies.

There wasn’t any interest in the Dayton City Commission race prior to Tuesday’s “breaking news.” A term that applies to everything from car crashes to shopping mall stickups thanks to our low bar for local “journalism”. Thanks to the FBI and the DOJ the local news finally has a story handed to them worthy of actual coverage and now, they’re digging in for angles- without figuring out what’s really going on.

For that, you have to come here. To read some of the 2800+ posts I’ve assembled since 2005. And to go to my youtube channel and watch the videos. Not the ones of crazy school board meetings, but the ones that showcase the sheer audacity of our political class treating the public as rubes.

The last laugh is a long way off, but for the local news outlets to not connect the dots to what’s been happening all along is a sad sign of how bad “journalism” has become.

Start with the money. And the person with the most money spent in local races would be our Mayor, Nan Whaley, a mediocre UD student who has somehow managed to move herself through the ranks despite not being either smart or particularly charismatic. In her race vs AJ Wagner after Gary Leitzell failed to pass the runoff- she spent $450K to get a job that pays about a tenth of that. And when we looked at where the money came from- you have to go back to this post: Money may not buy happiness, but it might buy a politician  from August 1, 2009. As I said, ten years is a magic number. In that post I was asking why was a guy named Kit Cooper handing so much money over to McLin and Whaley. Number one rule for journalists- and for FBI agents, follow the money. Of course, since our campaign finance records are self-reported and then audited by party folks, a lot gets by if you are a party person.

I was expecting the big donations then, to have come from Steve Rauch, because he had been a big party supporter in the past, and because after years of incompetent leadership in Dayton, the only profitable growth game left for blue collar racketeering is cleaning up the mess the political class has created. As you may remember, it wasn’t that long ago that the Feds were raiding Rauch’s offices and unsanitary composting facility. But, we didn’t see Steve being lead off in handcuffs or a press conference to indict him.

What ties the four folks indicted on Tuesday together is a former employee of Steve, Mike Marshall. There isn’t a lot online about Mr. Marshall, but what I did find wasn’t very positive. Apparently he’s an Army Veteran and he started a company called “United Demolition” with offices in 130 W. Second Street- right next door to the Federal Building. He also had a company called “Drywall Wizard” that has a horrible online reputation. How this guy can make it through the hoops to get contracts as a reputable contractor is beyond belief. (I recently had to go through the process to recertify as a Certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business and had to supply everything from tax returns to copies of contracts and bank statements). Just a quick check of legal actions against Mr. Marshall should have set off warning bells. Of course, if anyone was actually watching out for the public money- instead of themselves.

Earlier this month, Dayton commissioners approved a $248,000 contract with United Demolition in Dayton to remove and dispose of the equivalent of 13 commercial buildings, or nearly 1.7 million square feet of commercial space.

Source: Commercial properties bog down blight fight | DAYTON June 15, 2016

He is the link between all four of the indicted folks and has been working as an informant for the feds. Wiretaps, payoffs, contracts, partnerships with minorities to get contracts. That he chose to team with disgraced former State Rep Clayton Luckie should tell you that he’s not that bright. That the Feds perp walked someone with as stellar reputation as Joey Williams says they have concrete, rock solid evidence to guarantee prison time… unless, he….. flips and decides to spill the beans on all the others who’ve been running this scam in Dayton for a long time. CJ McLin is long gone 6 feet under, but his daughter is still playing puppet for the party on the Board of Elections (a sweetheart job that pays $20K a year to go to 2 meetings a month) to keep her from spilling what she knows.

Watching the local party make her prostrate herself in front of everyone for her support of AJ over Nan a few years back was as humbled as I’ve ever seen her. That she wasn’t left to rot, says she knows where enough bodies are buried so as to still be allowed a scrape from the plate.

Nan on the other hand is probably searching for countries that won’t extradite her just in case people start talking. Unfortunately, Ecuador doesn’t have a local embassy for her to hide out in. The look of her face during her press conference should have told you everything you needed to know. I’m guessing there have been people burning through industrial strength paper shredders in multiple places in town including Citywide Development, the Commission office, and probably a few other contracting offices.

If you need to see other examples of minority contracting per demolition contracts run awry, look no further than this post: The Death of a Good Idea about how Kent Development got killed off by shady deals that probably came with bags of cash too.

Note, this blog also questioned past stories about Brian Higgins and his contracts, in this post: Purchasing directors as prosecutors?

But, in the end, as I’ve said before, there are lots of different games being run in Montgomery County that shouldn’t be. And just like “The Wire” had five seasons, with five different story lines, all intertwined, the Dayton version probably has the same.


Who is buying your city commission?

If you think the indictments will stop with Joey Williams, RoShawn Winburn and Clayton Luckie on public corruption, you are sadly mistaken. Nothing happens with demolition contracts without multiple people signing off.

A while back, we saw the city part ways with former planning director Aaron Sorrell, without much insight. Sorrell had been right dab in the middle of the mess of the hole on Ludlow which pumped a bunch of city money into demolition contractors hands, first Steve Rauch and then Bladecutters. Never mind the mess with Student Suites, or how Rauch ended up owning the former Cox building on the corner which is still sitting and rotting. Read the details here: The hole on Ludlow.

You’ll see my idea of how to fix it near the end:

A good start would be firing Sorrell and Dickstein, and then liquidating CityWide Development to pay for the fixes, and then dismantle the Downtown Dayton Partnership and start returning the tax to the property owners. Those who want the common area maintenance performed by the “Ambassadors” (minimum wage workers in green shirts hired by an out-of-state firm) can band together to hire their own street sweepers.

Then, maybe, we can learn to leave the development to the private sector and concentrate on providing basic city services like plowing snow and collecting leaves, and hanging basketball nets on city courts.

I’m a bit behind on posting campaign finance reports and an analysis, because, well, I’ve been super busy with the run and covering the indictments (story coming). But, here’s the finance reports from all five Dayton City Commission Candidates.

thumbnail of Duncan, Valerie; 2019 pre primary

Valerie Duncan PDF- Click image to view

thumbnail of Esrati, David; 2019 pre primary

David Esrati PDF- Click image to view

thumbnail of Joseph, Matt; 2019 pre primary

Matt Joseph PDF- Click image to view

thumbnail of Shaw, Chris; 2019 pre primary

Chris Shaw PDF- Click image to view

thumbnail of Turner-Sloss; Shenise; 2019 pre primary

Shenise Turner-Sloss PDF- Click image to view

thumbnail of Shaw, Chris 2016 Annual report

Shaw, Chris 2016 Annual report- click image to view PDF

You’ll see that both Turner-Sloss and Duncan hired my firm for help with their campaigns which seems odd, until you realize that my prices for printing are a fraction of what Shaw and Joseph paid. This is an incredibly odd situation in politics.

And while this is the pre-election 2019 reports, the older reports get much more interesting. Like where Chris Shaw gets $3000 from Steve Rauch. His largest single donation on record.

Matt Joseph has a much longer record. But, I’m only able to find 1 donation from Rauch- and missing documents from a report.

2011 pre-general, $1000 Rauch.
2011 Post-general, we won’t know- because the BOE didn’t upload any attachments.

thumbnail of Post-General 2011 Joseph M

Post-General 2011 Joseph Matt, click image to see PDF

thumbnail of Joseph Matt 2011 pre-general

Joseph Matt 2011 pre-general, click image to read PDF

The real questions with the big money attached that need to be answered are in the fund raising for the Dayton Income Tax increase which both Shaw and Joseph backed. Now that the gloves are coming off, the real reason the average donation from 150 donors was $1873 was that the Mayor was telling folks that we don’t have any money to fund your projects unless you make a donation of at least $2000. You can see who this worked on in this post:

Issue 9- follow the money- and tax shifting

I’m also hearing the the next round of indictments may come as early as this Tuesday.

With questions surrounding demolition contracts, one of the first demolition projects that should be halted until further investigation is complete, is the demolition of Good Sam- which considering some other smelly deals like the giveaway of the Fairgrounds to Premier Health and University of Dayton starts to look fishy.

Follow me for a second. The original requirements to acquire the Fairgrounds were a development plan and $15M. Two firms submitted plans, then, they were rejected, and Premier and UD each paid $5.2M to total $10.4, but somehow, without a plan- they keep reporting it as a $15M deal. Read more here:

Fairgrounds to Premier and UD- or how stupid is the public?

Next, Premier starts construction on a new “Rehab Hospital” just North of the Fairgrounds- at the same time as they tell the public- Good Sam is vacant. We have too many beds. Move to tear down a building that the public has subsidized for 80+ years with no property taxes, and expedites the demolition without offering the property to others and even talks about a deed restriction against health care competition on the site.

The demolition contract on this property is real money. Just the permit is real money. And, some of the biggest donors to Issue 9- you guessed it- Premier Health.

If you’d like to know more about what I think is going on, you may want to watch this video of my full interview with WRGT/WKEF

And, remember Tuesday’s election is not a primary, all Dayton voters can vote for up to 2 of the 5 candidates to move the top 4 on to the November ballot.

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