Tag Archives: Mayor Michael Nutter

An Honor for a Brave Act


It took the City Council of Philadelphia to do what the Fire Administration should have done in July.  On September 20th the City Council of Philadelphia proclaimed Fran Cheney and in an additional comment the entire city fire department heroes.

It is tragic, though, that the ineffectual leadership of the department could not see its way clear to give Fran Cheney a medal for the heroic act he performed.  In case you are not up to speed on the story.  Cheney and three other firefighters had a building fall on them.  Cheney and another firefighter were pulled from the rubble alive.  Two good men lost their lives in that warehouse fire.  To most people having a building fall on you might make you a bit gun-shy.  But not the vast majority of the Philadelphia Fire Department.  Just months later Engine 61 with Firefighter Cheney on board responded to a house fire.  Cheney and the team were informed that there were still people inside.   With no ladder on location yet Cheney ran into the building and up the steps to find a distraught and disoriented woman in a bedroom.  At this point we need to be clear about something.  Firefighters are taught to never give up their air supply.  But in the real world and in the face of a victim who might make it even harder to help due to panic, Cheney made a quick decision.  Just one flight of steps and the door.  He removed his mask and placed it on the woman and walked her out.  In the process Cheney did suffer from some effects of smoke in inhalation and was treated at a local hospital overnight.

As many of the PFD family know what happened in that emergency room was nothing short of a travesty.  A senior official of the department visited with the injured firefighter.  It has been customary for the fire commissioner to visit injured members and I knew of many who never failed at that.  But it seems that Fran Cheney wasn’t worth the commissioners time.  He sent his second to check on Cheney.  You would expect a slap on the back and great job, but that never happened.  What did was that the fire official told Cheney what he did was stupid.

To this day there has been no official recognition from the Philadelphia Fire Department of that July 4th event.  I am sure though they felt the heat from the citizens as Cheney was not transferred like other members who have been injured.  This being the form of punishment for going above and beyond that Lloyd Ayers and his team like to dole out.  So Cheney returned to his station and back to his job.

The woman he saved was a young mother and she wanted to personally thank the Firefighter who saved her and with news cameras rolling she came to the Firehouse and Castor and Kensington Avenues.  As she thanked Cheney he produced an envelope and gave it to the woman.  He told her she needed it more than  him.  Inside the envelope was his overtime payment for the day he saved her.  The mark of a good man is compassion, Cheney in that one moment showed he is a good man and the right guy to honor as the City Council of Philadelphia did on September 20th, 2012.  Here is the citation from Council

 

City of Philadelphia
– 1 –
Council of the City of Philadelphia
Office of the Chief Clerk
Room 402, City Hall
Philadelphia
(Resolution No. 120662)
RESOLUTION
Honoring the extraordinary, heroic efforts of Firefighter Francis Cheney of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Ladder 10.
WHEREAS, In the morning hours of July 4, the crew of Engine 61 responded to a fire alarm at a burning rowhome in the neighborhood of Lawncrest. Firefighter Cheney entered the smoke-filled home and found a woman trapped on the second floor. When it was evident she was in distress, he ripped off his air mask and gave it to her before carrying her outside to safety. Cheney then spent the night at Temple University Hospital in order to receive treatment for smoke inhalation. He later donated his overtime pay to help the woman and her family rebuild their lives; and
WHEREAS, This heroic episode is not an isolated incident, but comes less than three months after Firefighter Cheney was injured in the five-alarm fire on April 9 at an abandoned warehouse in Kensington. Cheney was inspecting the furniture building adjacent to the warehouse when the wall and roof began to fall. He was buried in the rubble but managed to dig himself out. Firefighter Patrick Nally from Ladder 16, who was buried up to his waist, was also pulled from the rubble. Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter David Sweeney, also from Ladder 10, did not survive the incident; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That Firefighter Francis Cheney is hereby recognized and honored for his extraordinary, heroic efforts as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Ladder 10. With this resolution we also honor all our brave firefighters. This legislative body wants to show its appreciation to them during these difficult days of injury and loss.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That an Engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to Firefighter Francis Cheney as evidence of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.
City of Philadelphia
RESOLUTION NO. 120662 continued
City of Philadelphia
– 2 –
CERTIFICATION: This is a true and correct copy of the original Resolution, Adopted by the Council of the City of Philadelphia on the thirteenth of September, 2012.
Darrell L. Clarke
PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL
Michael A. Decker
CHIEF CLERK OF THE COUNCIL
Introduced by:
Councilmembers Kenney, Squilla and O’Neill
Sponsored by:
Councilmembers Kenney, Squilla, O’Neill, Oh, Johnson, Quiñones Sánchez, Goode, Greenlee, O’Brien, Jones, Reynolds Brown, Henon and Tasco

Shame on the Administration presiding at 3rd and Spring Garden and good job to the men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department who, in the face of a vindictive Commissioner and a Mayor who refuses to adhere to a binding arbitration award, continue to save lives and put out the fires.

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A revealing story.


This morning I woke up to find this headline on the 6ABC news website.

2 city councilperson aides suspected of DUI

Now you would think that these incidents might have happened  of different days or at different times but would you be surprised to find out they stemmed from the same incident?  Read on as reported by channel 6

SPRING GARDEN – September 8, 2012 (WPVI) — Two city councilperson aides were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, after a crash in Spring Garden.

It happened around 3:00 Saturday morning near the intersection of North 13th and Hamilton streets.

Authorities say a female aide to a city councilperson, lost control of her city owned vehicle and struck a pole, then a wall. She told police she was trying to avoid a bicyclist.

The woman called police and a male friend, who also happened to be an aide for a city councilperson.

Police arrived and took the female aide into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence.

The second city councilperson aide arrived on the scene, also driving a city owned vehicle. The male aide was taken into police custody for DUI suspicions as well.

An investigation continues.

Isn’t that amazing!  Now I am going to take this in a different direction.  For years City Council members have had cars and even drivers.  I am not sure why they need a driver they must be important (or self-important).  But this story has left me wondering just how many vehicles are at city councils disposal and why aides to council people are using the cars for personal business, you know like drinking at clubs till all hours of the morning.  Don’t get me wrong I did my share of that but I would never take a company car for personal business unless my boss made it clear it was okay.  Which leads me to think that these folks bosses did make it okay.  DO you see all the questions that arise from this.

How much is the vehicle expenditure for Council?

How much do they spend in gas?

Who pays for the gas if they are doing personal errands?

How many people who work for council have cars?

Why do they need them?

All these and more while the members of the city Unions like AFSME, and IAFF Local 22 go without raises or contracts for the entire first term of Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration.

When will the citizens of Philadelphia wake up to the corruption running their city?  When will they stop voting in the same party that is decimating the city.  In his speech before the Democrat National Convention Mike Nutter said that we take care of our own.  Based on this story and they way he is treating the other city workers he is right.  They are taking care of their own.  To hell with everyone else.

Taking a line from the news story.  An investigation should begin!

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Letter to Philadelphia


As a disclaimer, I will say ,I have no idea who wrote this.  I am certain the author is who he says he is.  But to point out one of the men and women as the author, even if I knew ,could lead to them getting fired due to the Commissioners unconstitutional muzzling of the members of the Philadelphia Fire Department.  Share this with everyone you know.  Make the call!
Dear Citizens of Philadelphia,
Let me start by thanking you for allowing me to serve and protect you.
I am a proud Philadelphia Firefighter. I love this job, this City and the people whom I serve. Philly is made up of a diverse mix of cultures, religions and orientations, an experience I enjoy immensely. I’m writing to you personally because the Philadelphia Firefighters need your help desperately!! Our Mayor, Michael Nutter is using our safety and yours, as a political pawn in a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette. The Mayor and his administration are trying to run the PFD as if it were a business. We all know public safety is NOT a business, in fact it’s more like an insurance policy. Hopefully you will never need it but it’s there when you do. He is placing thousands of you at risk every day and every night with his policy of “brown outs”. “Brown outs” mean certain fire trucks are closed for that day or night. Therefore when you go to bed at night you cannot be sure that your closest Fire truck is available. Which then means the next closest truck will be coming. That can add up to minutes that you are waiting for help. If you think it’s no big deal try this exercise: turn your oven on 500 degrees. Blindfold yourself and climb inside. See if 90 seconds makes a difference then. The Mayor is also placing Firefighters and Citizens in danger by having unqualified people at the head of the department simply because they are politically “connected”. Car 2 or second in command of the entire Fire Department has never been in charge of a Fire as a Battalion Chief or a Deputy Chief and has only very limited experience as a Lieutenant and Captain! Is this the guy you want making life or death decisions regarding you or your children? It’s obvious Mr. Nutter has no respect for public safety. He made that quite clear when he appointed Everette Gillison as director of Public Safety. Mr. Gillsison has ZERO experience in safety! In fact Mr. Gillison was a public defender (an attorney) it baffles me why Mayor Nutter would place an attorney in charge of Public Safety. The Fire Department has let many highly educated people with enormous amounts of experience retire and walk away, only to take their education and experience to other cities. Education and experience that you the tax payers paid for! Those are the people that should be in charge of your safety. Those are the people that should be running the Fire Department after all the Citizens of Philadelphia paid for their education and experience, it only makes sense to retain the best and brightest. The Mayor and his cronies are trying to demonize Philadelphia Firefighters, claiming we are only concerned with our lack of a contract and accusing us of being overtime mongers. The truth of the situation is we were awarded a modest contract by an independent arbitrator, that award was appealed by Mayor Nutter and again awarded, by an independent arbitrator. All of this doesn’t sit well with Mr. Nutter because the Firefighters union did not endorse him during either of his mayoral campaigns. This is political warfare at its lowest. Michael Nutter is placing his political agenda ahead of the safety of Philadelphia citizens and Firefighters. He and his cronies are trying to mislead you with conjured up figures and statistics. The cold hard truth is: this is a political game for Nutter. When Mr. Nutter was a City Councilman he himself was a huge advocate for the Fire Department and is on record many times criticizing former Mayor Street for attempting to close firehouses. I’m pleading with you to call the Mayors office and your city council members office and demand an end to brown outs and a new qualified leadership in the Fire Department. We all work for YOU. Including the Mayor and City Council. Please voice your demands and be an advocate for your safety and that of your loved ones.

CALL MAYOR NUTTER AND COUNCILMEMBERS TODAY!

Mayor Nutter 215-686-2181

Council At Large

Blondell Reynolds Brown 215-686-3438 blondell.reynolds.brown@phila.gov

William Greenlee 215-686-3446 william.greenlee@phila.gov

Wilson Goode Jr. 215-686-3414 wilson.goode@phila.gov

David Oh 215-686-3452 david.oh@phila.gov

James Kenny 215-686-3450 james.kenney@phila.gov

Bill Green 215-686-3420 bill.green@phila.gov

Dennis O’Brien 215-686-3440 dennis.o’brien@phila.gov

1st District Mark Squilla 215-686-3458 mark.squilla@phila.gov

2nd District Kenyatta Johnson 215-686-3412 kenyatta.johnson@phila.gov

3rd District Jannie Blackwell 215-686-3418 jannie.l.blackwell@phila.gov

4th District Curtis Jones, Jr 215-686-3416 curtis.jones@phila.gov

5th District Darrell Clarke 215-686-3442 darrell.clarke@phila.gov

6th District Bobby Henon 215-686-3444 bobby.hennon@phila.gov

7th District Maria Sanchez 215-686-3448 maria.q.sanchez@phila.gov

8th District Cindy Bass 215-686-3424 cindy.bass@phila.gov

9th District Marian Tasco 215-686-3454 marian.tasco@phila.gov

10th District Brian O’Neill 215-686-3422 brian.oneill@phila.gov

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It isn’t adding up!


Today for the second time the Nutter Administration appealed the “binding” arbitration award that is mandated under Act 111.  This act banned police and firefighters from striking and has been in place for a long time.  But a few years back under the Goode Administration the finances of the city got so bad the State formed an agency called the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Agency (PICA).  PICA was given broad powers over city finances and taxation and approval of all budgets.  Now here is the catch.  The legislation also said the Arbitration panel had to consider the cities ability to pay.  But what is supposed to happen is that the city is by rule supposed to submit a 5 year plan.  This plan should include all expenses and revenues for the city.  Basically a five-year budget.

Now the city or Union has a right to appeal once any award.  This little tidbit is key.  The arbitrator gave an almost identical award to the firefighters as was given in 2010.  It was Nutter who appealed the 2010 award.  As Bill Gault the Local 22 Union President pointed out in a letter detailing the reasons the union filed a preemptive lawsuit to block any appeal.

Currently, the City is in breach of the PICA statute. Under the PICA law, the City is allowed only one “appeal” of the decision of an arbitration panel in the matter of Fire Fighter, Medic or Police contracts. (Because Fire Fighters and Medics, like Police Officers, are not allowed to strike to obtain a contract, PA Act 111 calls for binding arbitration with a neutral arbitrator to decide contract terms.)

The law allows for one appeal and that process was completed by a judge ordering both sides to the table again.  The result was an almost identical award. This current appeal is both illegal and immoral.  Now the city is once again using the PICA board as a tool to hammer the city unions.  Here is what Philly.com wrote while making a quote of a city administrator.

The city’s Budget Director Rebecca Rhynhart said the decision was based on the cost of the award –$200 million over the course of the plan. The city will file the appeal next week.

“We’re appealing because it doesn’t meet the standard of the PICA Act,” she said.

It does not meet the standards of the PICA act!  What does that mean?  Remember the 5 year plan?  Well the city was hoping to not have to honor the award and left it out of its last few 5 year plans.  So with that in mind it would not fit the plan submitted to PICA.  But the PICA board has never seen a proposed budget that included the costs of the award.  Why would that be?  The city admitted they sent the plan hoping to win a victory in the contract arbitration.  Here again from philly.com.

The city’s five-year financial plan which was submitted to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), the city’s fiscal watchdog today, assumes the city will be successful in its appeal, said the city’s Finance Director Rob Dubow.

“We anticipated the likelihood that it would not include the arbitration award,” said PICA Board Chairman Sam Katz, adding that “the absence of recognition of two sets of arbitration awards …is a cause for concern.”

It sure is Sam.  Why would the city falsely assume they would win the day and base their entire submission to the PICA Board and then use that false assumption to say that the award does not fit the plan.  You getting this?  Nutter set the award up to fail on purpose.  Any good budget takes a worst case scenario into account.  The men and women who work for the city are being dumped on by the Mayor and his Administration.

One more interesting fact, the IAFF Convention was in town this week, isn’t it convenient that Mike Nutter was in New Orleans and the march on city hall was pretty much a dog and pony show because the target left town. And the day after the march and the convention leaving town the city makes the announcement of the illegal appeal.  We have cowards in City Hall folks.

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Not Compromised!


Here is the testimony of Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers before City Council in Philadelphia on April  11, 2012  Don’t be alarmed by the length of the video, Ayers is the first speaker.

The first comment Ayers makes is that he will pass on the sentiment expressed by council on the bravery of the members of the PFD.  Specifically Ayers says he will pass it on to the families.  I wonder if Lt Neary’s wife or FF Sweeney’s parents have heard those words from Ayers mouth.  The last this author heard Ayers had not spoken to either family about the tragedy.  Please tell us that is not correct!

Ayers next statement is that the budget for Firefighting in the city will be reduced by 5.9 Million dollars.  This while he is closing 6 additional companies daily, on top of the 7 complete company closings one wonders how the department is meeting the standards they are supposed to meet.  Somehow Ayers comes up with a class of 160 Firefighters and an additional class in early 2013 that will bring the department up to full staffing.  How can a department that is closing 6 companies a day be fully staffed?  There is a war of attrition going on in the city and the people will be the ones who suffer.  Yet Ayers (and obviously Mayor Michael Nutter) feel that reducing services and staffing are the key to getting the job done. When the city implemented the DROP (Delayed Retirement Option Plan) the idea was to retain the most experienced members who could retire after a fixed amount of time.  So if you entered the DROP in 2006 you had to be gone 48 months later in 2010.  Part of the logic was to make it easier to compensate for retirements due to knowing the actual retirement numbers at a given time. Since 2008 there has been one firefighter class and over 280 retirements.  This does not include members dying and being promoted into the rank of Lieutenant.  In short the deaprtment is understaffed leading to the overtime Ayers and nutter cry about.

As has been stated before the city and specifically Lloyd Ayers and Michael Nutter are using a calculated formula to gut the fire department.  How do you continually close fire companies yet offer a budget that is 6 Million dollars less than last year?  All of this while claiming that the citizens are safe.  Let’s tell that to the family of the 2 children who died in a fire in the cities Olney section.  A fire that started in the middle of a the day.  The closest engine company to that home was browned out that day.  What was Ayers defense?  This from an ABC news report.

Commissioner Ayers says the first engine responded in less than five minutes.

“Engine 51, however, did respond and responded within our expectations, they were here a little less than five minutes as we expect,” Ayers said.

The difference between 2 minutes and 5 minutes can be striking. Don’t think so?  By all means go back and watch this video from an earlier post entitled FIRE: Seconds Count.  Notice how quickly the room fills with smoke.  In under 2 minutes it is dark save for the orange flames.  Imagine if you will what would happen in 5 minutes. We don’t need to, thanks to a citizen who filmed a fire on Orthodox street in Northeast Philadelphia.  Watch the growth of the fire in this video and the amount of smoke coming from the structure.

How do you defend this? Under questioning from Council Ayers talks about response times.  He states they are meeting the standard that they need to meet as projected.  This would imply that they set their own standard for times for the first in company to respond.  There are national standards for company response.  The average response time in the PICA (Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority) report for the city is 4:48.  If your average is that close to the number 5 there is no way you can be meeting the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standard of under five minutes 90% of the time.  But fear not, as Ayers said during his testimony we factored that in and we are getting the results expected.

Yep..  Dead citizens and firefighters and higher injury rates.  Oh did I mention saving 5.9 Million dollars because you aren’t worth it  Good Luck residents of Philadelphia  you are going to need it.

All this from just his first six minutes.  More to come

 

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Is that a Fact?


Today the mouthpiece of the Nutter administration, The Philadelphia Inquirer, published a defamatory story about Local 22’s publicity campaign to make the citizens aware of the hazards of the station closings and the brownouts.The article written by an Inquirer staff writer.(which is a rare breed these days with this rag running AP rehash stories all week)  named Troy Graham.  Graham obviously is a dyed-in-the-wool fiscal conservative and clearly anti-union.  Which would strike me as odd since the Inquirer writers are unionized.  Actually I should not pick on Graham he is just blindly believing what he is told by Lloyd and McDonald.  If you care to read what Troy wrote you can find it here. One is left to wonder if this reporter did any real fact checking, because if you put the facts within the story in a different order you will see the city had to brown out companies to hide the fact that they stopped hiring firefighters and let the DROP program cause massive attrition.

Here is a paragraph from later in the article.

The department is projected to absorb $4 million in overtime costs this fiscal year, but that’s because of low manpower, Ayers said. An academy class of 60 to 80 firefighters is being assembled.

Really? 4 million in overtime in a department that is 7 companies smaller since Nutter took office?  Let’s not forget the Mayor said in 2006 that closing fire companies was misguided.  What they did not tell Troy Graham or the people of this city is that the overtime is generated by too few firefighters.  Well actually Lloyd said it, but it was in passing and he is being misleading about the brownouts and what they achieved.

Why do I say he is not being forthcoming?  Look at this comment.

The city says brownouts have been used for years when firefighters and equipment go out of service for training. They were backed up with firefighters earning overtime.

The difference with Nutter’s policy is that firefighters from browned-out stations are used to fill vacancies around the city, working regular time.

This folks is pure fiction.  I retired in 2005 and the rule was companies out of service for training could not exceed a specific number and there was no back fill or reserve companies used to fill the void.  They were never called brownouts.  Never heard the word until the Nutter Administration came along.  With the 7 closings and 3 brownouts a day that number is exceeded already. As far as the vacancies, once again we need to make it clear that they were created by the city allowing an attrition of personnel.  This was a calculated move to reduce the cost of benefits to this city service.  They let the overtime grow.  Only to use it as a club to say the firefighters are greedy.

They insist this is a safe thing to do.  Lloyd constantly repeats it.

The city has saved $3.8 million under the policy, said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, without jeopardizing the public.

“We stand on that,” he said. “We have the information. We’re monitoring that every day.”

This might be a bit of horn tooting on Ayers part. Fire deaths are down but it is not the first time and let’s not forget the population is down too.  If anything is saving the public it is those men and women in the firehouses that are left in the city busting their butts and sacrificing their bodies to make sure the people of Philadelphia can live for another day. Here are the numbers

TEN YEAR FIRE DEATH RECORD
2000    2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007    2008     2009
51           45          32         44          45          52           52        47            39         30
Fires resulted in injuries to 315 citizens. Of these injuries, (296) occurred in accidental
fires and (19) injuries occurred as a result of incendiary/arson fires

Odd that there is a similar dip back between 2000 and 2002.  Maybe it is not Lloyd Ayers brilliant leadership and visionary plan.  Wait,  what maybe?  It is not! Because he doesn’t do either.  It appears to be a combination of luck, skill and the dedication of the field forces in the department.  While bragging about his decrease in fire deaths is seems that Lloyd fails to mention this little nugget  The civilian injury rate..  Take a look

TEN YEAR INJURY RECORD
2000    2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007    2008    2009
251          212        242      247        193        239       159        165        271       315

*  This from the 2009 report by the PFD.  Next post we will look at the 2009 vs the 2011  report. Very interesting!

Is it me or did the injury rate to civilians go up since 2007?  Maybe these are just not important numbers since these folks were lucky enough to not die or pulled from the grips of death by a firefighter.   Look at the death rates they have dropped and risen before.  So have the injury rates.  But wow  never have so many been injured in one year as they had in 2009.  When did they close firehouses?  2007?  That big spike can’t be a coincidence.  It is, as I said, luck and the dedication of the field forces that lower the death rate in the city.

Get this information out to the people of the city.  Oh and for 2010 and 2011 the death rate went up to 33 and 32 respectively.  What Lloyd Ayers does not say is more important than what he does.  He won’t tell the people they are at risk.

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Mayor Nutter’s Worst Moment?


Here is a nice softball interview by a Drexel student.  She does an admirable job of lobbing the ball so Mike can hit it out of the park.  Let’s watch.

Let’s review his comments shall we.

The mayor seems proud of his ability to either save or increase jobs in Philadelphia.  Let’s go to the map

Yea great job mayor.  You have the highest unemployment rate in eastern Pennsylvania, trumped in the tri-state region by the most sparsely populated area of New Jersey.  That is effective leadership their mayor.

Now for the real reason I shared this video.  At around the 3:45 mark the interviewer asks the mayor about his best and worst moments as mayor.  Did you hear what he said?  Go back and listen again if you missed it.

After not mentioning the midnight bowling as his best moment as mayor he lists his worst moments as police that were killed in the city a few years ago and ends with the comment and the firefighters that get hurt.  He says those situations really weigh heavy on his heart.

Well that weigh must be relieved by the punishment and transfers of the injured members of the Fire Department that the mayor mentioned. To this day the mayor has not acted in the best interests of the members of the Fire Department after the obvious overreach by the Command Team of Ayers and Hargett.  Just recently two more members got punished for something that no one including a trail board of fire officers said was their fault.  But yet the members were punished by Ayers and Hargett.

When will Michael Nutter do the right thing and ask for the resignations of Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Ernest Hargett. Stop with the Blind eye.

Pass it on!

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