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WPCNR Migrants Today. May 24, 2023:

Being interviewed on WOR Radio Tuesday, County Executive George Latimer  in a statement implied he would accept New York City migrants placements in Westchester County:

He said: “Our attitude isn’t as severe as some of our neighboring counties. If we’re trying to help release a little bit of the pressure valve in New York City, we’ll help out. We’ll do a certain amount, and we’ll manage it, and we’ll try to make sure that it goes well.”

On WVOX Tuesday morning he said there was no “sanctuary” towns or cities in the county and no other locations other than the Yonkers Ramada Inn where 50 rooms are allocated and paid for by New York City to house migrants currently, at this time.

At the end of last week, the county has not yet  responded to WOR questions as to how the county was mobilizing with Westchester organizations, businesses, hotels and cities since last week  to line up possible migrant housing locations in the county.

WPCNR has learned that a number of non-profit organizations have been meeting and discussing needs and logistics as to how their organizations can respond to help and provide for New York’s 71,000 migrants needing housing.

The Hudson Valley Gateway Association of Realtors, asked by WPCNR if the realtors discussing a policy to find housing available for migrants in a statement wrote:

” HGAR does  not have a statement about housing at this point.  As for  foreclosures (as housing locations)  that would be up to individual brokers.” (The Regional Realtors are having a conference the first week in June where how real estate professionals could help the region respond to the migrant crisis by discussing possibilities, but it is not planned to do so at this time.)

Modayn NY Governor Kathy Hochul in an appearance in Brooklyn with Mayor Eric Adams, said the state is coordinating  locations to house the migrants. She did  not prohibit counties from  responding with their own local location suggestions. She called on the Biden Administration to provide Judges, Clerks and Money to expedite the asylum procedure.

in her address to the state Monday, she said:

“Right now, we have members of my senior team literally embedded working shoulder to deal with finding space, just emergency shelters, wherever we can find it. We have over 1,500 National Guard members. What are they doing? Building cribs, running out for food, making you feel secure, helping people apply for their asylum status, becoming a friend to people. And I want to thank our National Guard. This is a hurricane of sorts and they’ve been out there since for many months, and I want to thank them for what they’re doing.  

And we are identifying additional shelters.

“The city is overflowing. The mayor has used every ounce of creativity with him and his team to find space, and we are asking for more space. We’re looking at hangers at JFK.

We’ve asked for Floyd Bennett Field to stand up a major operation. We have other facilities we’ve been talking about. We’ll be announcing more on that briefly.

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(From the Governor’s Press Office;)

In a news conference in Brooklyn this morning, Governor Kathy Hochul set procedures in place to  house, expedite status, train the 71,000 migrants flowing into New York City to be employed while they stay awaiting decision on their status. Here is what she said:

Governor Hochul: “They’re eager to work. They want to work. They came here in search of work and a new future, and they can become part of our economy and part of our communities, and people are ready to start training them right in facilities like we have here today.”

Get them shelter. Get them food. Get them legal services. And then help them get to work. And so these are yet challenges, but what a great opportunity for us here in New York. And I have to say, over the last many months, a year ago, longer than a year ago, Mayor Adams and his team have been asked to do the impossible. 

But he rose up. He put so much muscle behind the effort to find homes for these individuals any way he could. Leaving no stone unturned. And he recognized, now that we have over 70,000 people fleeing difficult, terrifying circumstances. Whether it’s an oppressive regime in Venezuela, economic circumstances, great poverty, oppression, gang violence, decades of this have forced people who otherwise would be just as comfortable living at home in their own communities to have to flee those circumstances. 

And so, mayor, I want to thank you again. On behalf of the people of this State for the way you just stood up to this challenge, didn’t run away, didn’t shirk it, and said, “let’s figure this out.” And that is the kind of leadership that is so critically important. That is why your partnership on this is so important. 

And you recognize these are individuals who deserve compassion and dignity.

And I’m talking about Yvert who talked, who just crossed the border from Texas three weeks ago with this one-year-old and a six-month-old child, how terrifying could that have been? How terrifying not knowing when you’re traveling with an infant, what the next day’s going to bring. 

Will there people on the road who want to do your harm? Will there be enough food and water the next day? Imagine the terror of what he went through, but he was unrelenting in his pursuit of giving his little daughter a better life. It’s an extraordinary story. And now he’s applying for asylum to be part of the New York family. 

And New York has been working so hard to provide individuals like this what they need.

New York City is the number one destination for asylum seekers who have been released from federal custody, who are waiting their next steps in the process.

Now we know why. New York is an incredible place to live. But it also has conferred a lot of responsibility and the fact that right now there are over 42,000 people sheltered, safely sheltered, in this city shows the effectiveness of the mayor’s operation, but also the compassion of the people here in New York because this is a humanitarian crisis, not created by this city, not created by this State, but it doesn’t matter. 

Blaming doesn’t help.

We’re in executive positions where you have to just manage and that’s what we have to do. But we’ve helped. I want to thank my partners in state government. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Senate, Carl Heastie, our Speaker, the entire legislature for seeing that more resources would be needed, and that’s why just a few weeks ago, we passed $1 billion in our budget to provide for supportive services, housing and legal services. 

I’ve committed to the mayor. I’m sure that’s not the end of it. We’ll just leave it at that right now. But we’re going to make sure you have what you need, mayor, we’re going to make sure you have what you need because we are committed to getting this right and we’ll continue to work closely with you. 


Right now, we have members of my senior team literally embedded working shoulder to deal with finding space, just emergency shelters, wherever we can find it. We have over 1,500 National Guard members. What are they doing? Building cribs, running out for food, making you feel secure, helping people apply for their asylum status, becoming a friend to people. And I want to thank our National Guard. This is a hurricane of sorts and they’ve been out there since for many months, and I want to thank them for what they’re doing.  

And we are identifying additional shelters.

The city is overflowing. The mayor has used every ounce of creativity with him and his team to find space, and we are asking for more space. We’re looking at hangers at JFK.

We’ve asked for Floyd Bennett Field to stand up a major operation. We have other facilities we’ve been talking about. We’ll be announcing more on that briefly.

But we need all levels of government to respond to this.

We truly do. And I’ve been working with our partners in Washington since last summer with the mayor trying to find how we can be more flexible in ensuring that these individuals can get a quicker path to a legal work status. I visited Washington again just a few days ago and was in constant communication yesterday with the White House. They know what we need. We need money, we need new places for shelter, and we need support. 

But more than anything in why we’re united here today with business and labor and advocates – and I do want to mention the New York Immigration Coalition is here as well, what an extraordinary job they’ve been doing. More than anything, we need changes to the work authorization policies that will let these individuals not have to wait months and possibly years for that legal status, but let’s get it in on an expedited basis. 

Shrink the wait

So, we think it’s possible. Right now, you have to wait 180 days after you file for your legal asylum status. That is the big unknown. People come here, they’re desperate, they’re trying to figure out how to just get on their feet, they don’t know the language and the burden of trying to properly fill out the asylum papers. 

And then if you’re missing something that someone’s actually going to find you to update the application, then at some point you’re going to go see a judge, we don’t have enough judges here in the State of New York, so start sending some judges up and the clerical staff. Give us the support we need so they can start properly filling out the asylum process. 

But, once that’s done under the current rules, they then have to wait 180 more days in limbo, not able to work legally in the State of New York. That’s not working. That’s not a solution. They’re ready to work. They’re willing to work. And they’re not able to work. So, we’re spending a lot of money. We’re dealing what we can, but we need this help from Washington. 

And again, I want to thank our partners, and I’ve been in constant communication with Majority Leader Schumer almost daily on this issue for many months and our Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and all the members here and the entire delegation. We need this change in policy from Washington to allow Mario Cilento and Danny Meyer and Kathy Wylde to go back to everyone they represent and say, “We’ve solved this crisis. We have people.” 


So, when you think about what we have open right now, I know upstate, I know exactly where it starts too – there are over 5,000 farm jobs, 5,000 farm jobs open as we speak. The cows don’t wait to be milked, the plants need to be maintained and harvested in a few months, the crops.

We have more than 5,000 food service jobs right now. I’m a former waitress. I made pizzas, chicken wings, waited tables, cleaned floors, did pots and pans – doesn’t take a lot of skill, I was 15 years old. Those jobs are available.

4,000 openings for janitors, cleaners, and housekeepers. As I mentioned, the jobs for farm workers as well.

So, we’re grateful that the Biden Administration has instituted a new border process, starting with the suspension of Title 42 on May 11th. We all know that date well. And that’ll allow asylum seekers from other countries to seek sponsorship and to apply from their home countries. And if they don’t, they will be turned back. So that is a shift in policy, which we hope will be successful and mitigate the flow of new arrivals here.  

But in the meantime, we know who we have. 

They’ve been coming in daily, and we have to deal with the number of individuals with us now, whether it stays 71,000 or it’s up to 80, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we have to deal with it.  

And also, one thing we’re doing is having our Department of Agriculture and Markets connect with Cornell University and finding people who do have work authorization because some people have applied successfully, they’re already able to work on our farms. But, that doesn’t help the problems we have right now.  

So again, this is an ask.

We’re asking again, we’re pleading, saying, this is a great opportunity here in the State of New York to solve two problems: how to help these people get on their feet and support their families – and my God, who in this city has not come from somewhere else, their family?

And I took note of the Statue of Liberty in Ellis Island as I came here this morning, a reminder of my teenage grandparents who fled great poverty in Ireland over a century ago. Grandpa found a job working on a wheat field in South Dakota as a migrant farm worker, and they were domestic servants in the city of Chicago until they found jobs as union workers making steel in Buffalo. 

Their children, eight children packed into a tiny house, became business leaders, school superintendents, educators, and a granddaughter even became a governor. That’s what happens in one generation, one generation. People’s lives are transformed, they are changed. That is the story of New York.

And let us have the power to give that same right, that same opportunity to people to say, “Yes, you are part of our family. We welcome you. And you’re going to help us get through a crisis, the shortage of workers.”

We can solve for it. And that is the great opportunity we have before us today.

And no one knows that better than our mayor and we are working so closely together. And I also want to say to parts of our country and our state who are enacting bigoted policies based on fear and intimidation, join us.

Join us. Let people know the true story of what New York is.

It was not putting out those signs, even though Grandpa saw “Irish need not apply.” Eventually those signs came down and people were welcoming. 

At the start of the event Governor Hochul acknowledged the support of labor, restaurants, hotels, and community groups supporting the effort:

Danny Meyer, you sure know how to host an event on short notice, and I want to thank you for welcoming us to this training center. 30,000 square foot kitchen and all sorts of facilities. And the operative word is on ‘training,’ training workers, which is why we’re here today. 

I do want to acknowledge, and I’ll be presenting him in a few minutes, but having our mayor here, a great teammate, a great partner. And I want to thank him for his continual communication and working together and just rolling up our sleeves. Let’s give another round of applause to our mayor, Eric Adams. 

Thank you. We also have the dean of the Congressional delegation. Jerry Nadler has joined us – a strong, important voice for us in Washington D.C., joined by Congressman Dan Goldman. We are in your house. This is your district as well. And thank you for all you’re doing for us and your focus on helping us solve problems. 


Kathryn Wylde, the President of the Partnership for New York City. I want to tell you, whenever there’s a crisis you are there to roll up your sleeves with all of us and to bring the business community to bear and the influence that you have. So, thank you Kathy, for working on this issue with us as well.  


Andrew Rigie, I want to thank you. We’ve seen each other at many events. But, when you harness the power of the restaurants and the hotels and all the employers, there’s a great story you’re going to hear unfold here today about great possibilities, great opportunities that thus far have been on overlooked, and we’re looking to capitalize on them today and put a lot more people to work in your facilities as well. 

We are so fortunate to have the leader of the New York State AFL-CIO, again, bringing labor to the issue as well. And I want to thank Mario Cilento for his. Support for us as well, and you’re going to hear from Yvert Rafa, an asylum seeker who traveled a great distance, who came with his little child from Venezuela and literally arrived here just a few weeks ago. He is going to tell you about the experience of being one of those individuals who found their way to our great city, in our great state. So you’ll be hearing from him momentarily. Thank you, Yvert. Thank you. 

Union Square Hospitality Group. This is extraordinary and I want to thank you again, Danny, for hosting us here. And you think about some of the greatest establishments we have in the city. They have Danny’s name associated with them, but one of the barriers holding back even more success is the challenge of finding workers. 

Danny and I had this conversation literally just a couple days ago, and this is going to affect the future and the viability of our restaurants when people, and I’m hearing not just in the city, but all over the state, only being able to have shorter hours, reducing the days they’re open, having only serve half of a dining room instead of the whole dining room, because there are not enough workers here in the State of New York. 



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After an additional month of negotiations and debate, New York State enacted a budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. It is often said that a budget is not just a list of numbers, but a statement of values. While not everything the Legislature asked of the Governor made it into the final budget, the final spending and investment plan should improve the lives of all New Yorkers.
These are some highlights from the Fiscal Year 2023-34 Budget:
Every public school district in New York will be fully funded for the first time since the State adopted the Foundation Aid formula in 2007.
 This year’s $2.6 billion increase brings total Foundation Aid up to $24 billion, and it couldn’t have come at a more critical time, as the 2% cap on year-to-year increases has left our districts struggling to keep up with the rate of inflation. There is more work to be done to make sure the formula is equitable, which we hope to address for the 2024-25 fiscal year, but this year’s increase represents a significant stride for our schools and our children.
The increases in Foundation Aid funding makes a big difference in the overall funding increases to almost all of our school districts. The 2023-24 school aid increases for each of our school districts are as follows:
  • $4 million increase for Ardsley Union Free School District
  • $1.8 million increase for Dobbs Ferry Union Free School District
  • $2 million increase for Elmsford Union Free School District
  • $1.6 million increase for Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District
  • $233,497 increase for Greenburgh Central 7*
  • $2.2 million increase for Irvington Union Free School District
  • $2.7 million increase for Mount Pleasant Central School District
  • $2 million increase for Pleasantville Union Free School District
  • $149,306 decrease for Pocantico Hills Central School District**
  • $4 million increase for Public Schools of the Tarrytowns
  • $1.3 million increase for Valhalla Union Free School District
  • $14 million increase for Yonkers Public Schools
The education budget also provides $135 million to expand free school meal programs by up to 300,000 more students, $115 million for Schools for the Blind and Deaf (4201 Schools), and an increase of $150 million for Universal Prekindergarten (UPK). The Child Tax Credit will be extended to families with children under 4 years old
There will be no tuition increase this year for New York’s SUNY and CUNY students, with the budget’s increase of $281 million in operating aid. The budget provides an additional $3 billion in much-needed capital funding for the two systems. As a CUNY graduate myself, I was determined to see that our public universities — which make the difference in so many lives and in our communities — continue to provide affordable, quality educational opportunities to our residents.
The State is making a significant new commitment to health programs, facilities, and care providers. These are led by increases of nearly $395 million for Medicaid hospital reimbursements, $890 million to create 3,500 new mental health residential units, $216 million for nursing home and assisted living programs, and $324 million for a 4% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for human services providers.
The health budget also establishes the Daniel’s Law Task Force, to identify ways the State can better care for individuals in mental health and substance-use crises, and provides $34 million for youth mental health programs, including $10 million to fund suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth.
The Governor’s Housing Compact and Transit-Oriented Development proposals were removed from the budget. The Housing Compact as proposed would have created more housing stock without addressing the need for affordable housing; Transit-Oriented Development would have overridden local zoning laws to fast-track high-density luxury development. Instead, housing policy will be negotiated as part of the regular legislative process, outside of the budget.
To help keep New Yorkers housed and to promote home ownership, $1.1 billion has been allocated to rental assistance programs, including $391 million for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and $25 million for a new First-Time-Homeowner program to help qualifying families cover down payments and closing costs. The budget also provides $50 million for eviction prevention legal services, and $60 million in RESTORE-NY funding to help municipalities revitalize both commercial and residential properties.
One of our biggest environmental accomplishments this year is the phasing out of gas service in all new buildings constructed after 2028. (New buildings under seven stories will be fully electric after 2025.) This will not require anyone who currently owns a gas appliance to retrofit their home with an electric appliance. However, the State has set aside $400 million for those who opt to retrofit their homes with electric appliances to reduce their carbon footprint.
The budget provides $500 million for clean-water infrastructure, $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, $200 million to expand the Energy Affordability Program, and $200 million to support NYSERDA’s EmPower Plus program for energy-efficiency upgrades. It also authorizes the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to build renewable energy projects to fill the gaps in meeting State climate goals.
This year, we will see an increase of $100 million for local roads and bridges. $60 million will go to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and $40 million to State Route NY, which reimburses municipalities for capital projects on state touring routes. It is funding for which I had most strongly advocated, and which Assembly Speaker Heastie included in the Assembly’s One-House Budget Bill, and it brings the State’s total allocation for local roads and bridges to $1.3 billion.
With regard to public transportation, a reallocation of casino licensing fees will provide $1.15 billion in new funding to the troubled MTA — preventing an increase in the payroll mobility tax on our suburbs. The MTA will also receive $165 million in new revenues from New York City paratransit, $70 million for frequency and security enhancements, and $65 million to minimize a proposed fare hike, as well as a one-time subsidy of $300 million. An additional $15 million has been allocated to a zero-fare bus pilot program for one free bus line in each borough.
The most contested issue between the Legislature and Governor was bail reform, with the outcome being the removal of “least restrictive means” language from the law; this will allow judges more discretion in deciding how to ensure defendants return to court for their trial. An increase to $170 million in total discovery funding will help ensure more accurate outcomes in legal cases, as should $40 million for New York State Aid to Defense and $20 million for immigrant legal and other services. More than $110 million has been allocated to anti-gun violence initiatives, $30 million to combat bias crime and harassment, and $6.5 million to rape crisis centers.
To offset inflation, the State will increase the minimum wage to $17/hour in New York City and Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties by 2026, and to $16/hour in the rest of the state. Future increases will be indexed to the rate of inflation, with any pause lasting no more than two consecutive years. As mentioned above, human services providers will receive a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) of 4% out of consideration the higher levels of demand their jobs entail. While these rate increases are less than the Legislature had sought, they will bring some financial relief to our essential workers.
The Westchester delegation worked together to restore funding in the budget to Choice Matters, El Centro Hispano, Latino U College Access (LUCA), and other local not-for-profit organizations and programs.
These allocations include:
  • $525,000 to Afya Foundation
  • $30,000 to Choice Matters
  • $150,000 to El Centro Hispano
  • $350,000 to LUCA
  • $180,000 to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
* Greenburgh Central 7 received a smaller amount than neighboring school districts, however it met their expectation for a 3% increase in 2023-24.
** The decrease for Pocantico Hills Schools is a correction that brings its funding in line with the Foundation Aid formula.

Should you want to review the budget in greater detail, please go to FY 2024 Enacted Budget Overview on the New York State website.
If you have any questions about the budget, or any other concerns, feel free to contact my Albany office at 518-455-5753 or Tarrytown district office at 914-631-1605, or email me at shimskym@nyassembly.gov.
MaryJane Shimsky
Assemblymember 92nd District
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WPCNR AT LARGE.  Review By John F. Bailey. May 21, 2023:

Standard Amusements and Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins opened a perfect mix of respect for  Playland Past and Playland now and the Playland to come.

Even in the drizzle that drifted down on butterflies on stilts, an exotic fortune teller Alba and dignitaries attending the Ribbon cutting, it was hard to curb my enthusiasm the sparkling new lawn the fresh paint, tastefully brightened to uplift Playland, Westchester County’s go-to destination for fun and “play” since 1928, and a friendly proud and polite new staff greeting the media yesterday.

Kiddyland was back in sparkling  spiffy new appearance with my favorite ride, The Playland Express, of course. The Steeple Chase, the Ferris Wheel, The Merry-go-round, the Zombie Castle of the past, the Dragon Coaster rattling with squeals floating in the air, the adrenaline was back. Cares of the reporter were forgotten.

I, hard-bitten, cynical, critical, hard-to-live with, always seeing the darkside of the future was lifted out of perpetual “why didn’t they” attitude.

Playland has a magic to it that in the old cliché’ of Barnum & Bailey (no relation)  applies: “Fun for all ages.”

I mean, just walking the sweep of the mall leading to the landmark Playland Tower, it invites you to “Come on In and take a ride.”

The magic has not been lost, it has been enhanced, embellished with taste, panache and class.

The County has not yet replaced  all the colonades, one of the major costs of repairing the park. I was told the county is planning to install those next winter.

The County did complete the pool and that will be open this Memorial Day Weekend for the season. The pool requires a Westchester County Park Pass for entry and does not come with admission.

The beach on Long Island Sound is open to Playland guests.

The great  lawn of Playland  looks ballpark green and  is spectacular.

Instead of rolling out a red carpet Playland visitors get the enthusiastic greeting of the welcoming “Green Carpet” and well-trained young hosts, polite concerned and a pleasure to see. Playland is a great resource for youths seeking employment during the summer.

The stage at the end of the park will feature entertainment sure to attract and I would recommend the park stay open late on the Friday, Saturday Sunday nights. It is the safest, best lit, glittering place you can take a date young or old. And, unlike most restaurants you can hear what your date is saying with the raucous soundtrack of Playland making you feel giddy.

The Fees.

If you’re bringing kids under two they are free. If you as a parent are not planning on going on rides, you can get a Spectator Pass for $5.99.

If your children are under 48 inches tall you can get a reduced admission.  All persons wanting to ride over those ages the admission is $39.

But you can buy a season pass with all rides for a great discount.

Parking though costs $20 every day during hours when the park is open.

There is an indoor restaurant being built inside the park in the vicinity of the log plume and the steep splash down ride

Two rides are under construction. One arcade area is being built new but its appearance during the construction is not visual jarring, preserving the ebullient energy of the park. The gameson the west side of the park has been brightened up. The Old Mill is back as a ride.

Today  Sunday is a good day to come on down.

On my way out, I spoke to a man with two grandchildren and asked what he felt about. He like the way the park looked and the atmosphere.

Ken Jenkins the Deputy County Executive said in his opening remarks, “Everyone in Westchester loves Playland.”

I did when I was a kid riding the Playland Express.

Kudos to Standard Amusements for The New Playland, and getting it ready.

My old flame when I was a kid is still my new flame.

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WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By Professor Stephen Rolandi, John Jay School of  Criminal Justice and Pace University. May 19, 2023:

(WPCNR asked Professor Rolandi, a regular analyst of state procedures for WPCNR to examine the feasibility of the Latimer plan on housing  immigrants overflowing from New York City, currently the talk of the county. Here are his thoughts)

This is a complex immigration issue; which, in my view is a problem the Federal government created because the executive and legislative branch have not been able to agree on a compromise.

This problem dates back to the current and three prior administrations (Bush 43, Obama and Trump). It has been dumped on state and local governments as well as the courts.

County Executive Latimer is to be commended for proposing a solution and I believe he has called for Federal legislation in this area. His plan for a field court attempts to ensure a legal pathway for immigrants and recognizes the importance of due process while maintaining legal compliance.

The Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) heads up the administration of the state court system.

There is a chief administrative judge as well as chief administrator who ensures the court system’s smooth functioning. Generally, lower court judges can be re-assigned where the caseload is very high (for example, criminal and civil court judges).

So a field court with hearing officers/judges may be permissible.

The Federal doctrine of preemption (contained in the Supremacy clause of the Constitution) may apply in this situation.

According to the US Constitution (Article VI, Section 2), when Federal and state law conflicts, Federal law generally prevails. When state and local law conflicts, state law will usually prevail. My guess is that what County Executive Latimer wants to do may work, but the devil is in the details.

There will also be the issue of which level (s) of government will pay for the cost of this proposed program. As we have seen with New York City, what the Federal government has proposed for cost relief to the City of New York may not be adequate. Time will tell on this one.

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