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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 1.3.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. 

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

First in Sunburn — Ronald A. Brisé, the former state utility regulator denied a third term by Gov. Rick Scott, now is joining the Gunster law firm as a government affairs consultant.

The news was shared first with Florida Politics (as was yesterday’s exclusive, ICYMI, on McGuireWoods Consulting opening a new Tallahassee office).

Brisé will join his former Public Service Commission (PSC) colleague Lila Jaber, now Gunster’s Regional Managing Shareholder. He will be based in the Tallahassee and Orlando offices.

“Ron brings a tremendous amount of legislative and agency experience with him to Gunster, which complements our government affairs services and strengthens our statewide footprint even further,” managing shareholder Bill Perry said in a statement.

Brisé was first appointed to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities, in 2010 by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Brisé had reapplied for another term before Scott decided to go with former state Rep. Ritch Workman. Workman since withdrew his nomination after a sexual misconduct allegation.

Brisé, who also served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2006-10, “leverages a wealth of experience in governmental, legislative, political and business arenas to represent clients in matters that include appropriations, business development, education, governmental and legislative affairs, public policy, and economic development,” the firm said.


— @MarcoRubio#IranProtest result of regime that spent billions of $ to prop up Hezbollah, Assad & Huthi missiles instead of prosperity for own people

— @RichardCorcoran: Sanctuary cities are a threat to the safety of our communities. On week one of Session, the Florida House will pass a bill that will enforce the rule of law.

@MDixon55: Senate Majority still Backs Jack (Latvala)? He’s on invite committee sent out this morning for its pre-session Tallahassee fundraiser.


— @criminalDfense: First official day for Josh Doyle as The Executive Director of @theflabar! Congratulations Josh! I am thrilled to work with you and look forward to wonderful times ahead!

— @SkipFoster: BREAKING: @NWSTallahassee calling for up to 1 inch of snow/.1 inch of ice in Leon County.

— @Fineout: so if it’s really going to snow in Tallahassee, I think it should be a week from today. And if we are wishing, make it a blizzard

— @KMcGrory: Let this headline sink in: Monster storm to blast East Coast before polar vortex uncorks tremendous cold late this week


Under Terrie Rizzo, Florida Democratic Party’s shaky finances get ‘immediate’ boost” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Less than a month into her new role and following a period of turmoil at the Florida Democratic Party, Chair Terrie Rizzo gave an “immediate” $253,000 boost to the party’s shaky finances. Rizzo told Florida Democratic Leadership in a memo that the party’s financial team called on “Democrats and Democratic leaders from every corner of the state” and raised the money in 21 days. Even with the recent spike, the party has less than half a million dollars in the bank heading into an expensive election year, which includes the governor’s race and a handful of highly-contested statehouse races.

Ron DeSantis edges out Adam Putnam, Richard Corcoran in Republican gubernatorial matchup” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — A new poll from Remington Research Group found DeSantis … routes both Putnam and Corcoran in a hypothetical matchup, taking 28 percent of the vote to Putnam’s 25 percent. Corcoran received only 3 percent of the Republican primary vote in the hypothetical robopoll matchup, while a significantly larger portion of voters — 44 percent — said they are undecided as to who they’d vote for in the GOP primary. When the options were narrowed to two — DeSantis and Putnam — DeSantis once again narrowly took the lead over the state Ag Commissioner, taking 30 percent to Putnam’s 29 percent. More than a third of poll respondents — 36 percent — self-identified as “Trump Republicans,” while another 31 percent said they were “Christian Conservatives.” Only 14 percent said they were traditional conservatives. The smallest number — 5 percent — identified as Tea Party Republicans. The poll, published by a group run by former Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz adviser and political consultant Jeff Roe, does not have any apparent or publicly known ties to any Florida gubernatorial candidates or campaigns.

Fred Costello’s new congressional campaign hit with FEC complaint” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — … a likely precursor to what’s going to be a sharp-elbowed GOP primary. Costello is running for the 6th Congressional District, which includes southern Jacksonville and stretches down to New Smyrna Beach. It is currently represented by Republican Rep. DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for governor. The complaint, filed by Orange City resident Tom Homan, alleges that Costello was campaigning prior to being an official candidate, which could violate federal election laws. The 10-page complaint points to the fact that Costello told local media outlets his potential policy platform and discussed a run when addressing local business and political leaders, including calling himself the “best candidate.” “As early as Aug. 9, 2017, Costello had made unequivocal public statements through an orchestrated and planned media rollout that he was a candidate for Florida’s sixth US congressional district,” read the complaint. Costello said that he does not think he violated any rules, including one that limits potential candidates to spending less than $5,000 prior to officially filing.

Federal prosecutor steps up to challenge Gus Bilirakis” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – “American service is an enduring promise that crosses generations, connects us to one another, and inspires hope,” said Democrat Chris Hunter, 44. “All of us are looking forward to renewing the American promise of service to our country and to one another.” Hunter is a political newcomer who applied to the FBI following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and as an agent focused on counterintelligence, counterterrorism and international fugitive investigations. He most recently worked as a senior prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice concentrating on health care fraud. Concerns about President Donald Trump‘s leadership helped him decide to take on an uphill political campaign. Congressional District 12, which covers all of Pasco County and part of north Pinellas, is a heavily Republican district that Trump won by nearly 19 percentage points.

Political foe takes aim at state House seat held by Republican Party chief” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times – Former Hernando County Commissioner Jeff Stabins pre-filed paperwork to challenge state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia for the House District 35 seat, which represents most of Hernando County. Stabins, 58 and also of Spring Hill, served three previous terms in the Legislature and two terms on the County Commission. He comes into this race swinging at Ingoglia, who has been a political foe for some time. For Ingoglia, who heads the state Republican Party, this is his first primary challenge. Ingoglia also has pre-filed, seeking his third consecutive term in the Legislature. No other candidate has stepped forward seeking the seat.

Republicans can’t generate buzz for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat, and some say it’s unwinnable” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The seat that encompasses Little Havana, most of downtown Miami and Miami Beach is now considered unwinnable by some Republicans in Congress and fundraisers who could infuse millions into a competitive congressional race, according to interviews with high-ranking GOP officials and potential donors. Keeping Ros-Lehtinen’s seat was always going to be a challenge for Republicans after the longtime Miami congresswoman announced her retirement in May. Republicans couldn’t draw top-tier recruits, such as Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera; one announced candidate made national news for claiming to have boarded a spaceship with aliens; fundraising has lagged, and one of the top GOP candidates recently left the race. “The seat is now going to go to the Democrats,” said Raquel Regalado, a former Miami-Dade school board member and candidate for Miami-Dade mayor who recently announced she was dropping out of the Republican race to replace Ros-Lehtinen.

Carlos Guillermo Smith re-election video doesn’t hold back” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The minute-20-second video dubbed “Pride in 49” is being sponsored on social media including Facebook. In that speech, Smith declares that pride means having the courage to love who you want, to be unapologetic and to live lives “openly and without fear.” The video scenes go back and forth between Smith at the podium, and Smith out walking in the parade. “And yes, to be proud of who we are as LGBTQ Floridians also means we need to push back against discrimination, not just against homophobia and transphobia, but we also need to challenge racism, and we need to challenge xenophobia, and we need to challenge Islamophobia,” Smith continues. “That is Orlando United … My name is Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and I am a progressive, feminist, queer, Latino, liberal, Democrat, and I am proudly serving you all in the Florida House of Representatives. Soy Latino!” he concludes, [“I am Latino.”]

Click on the image below to watch the video.

What Tony DeSisto is reading —In exchange for a political donation, David Simon will personally apologize for killing Omar on The Wire” via Matthew Dessum of Slate — Simon, the creator and showrunner of The Wire, has found a unique way to raise money for Democratic candidates: anyone who donates $1,000 or more to a slate of progressive congressional candidates before midnight will receive a personal apology from Simon for killing off beloved character Omar Little. Little, played by Michael K. Williams, was a charming and intelligent stickup artist who made a living robbing drug dealers; he was eventually — and unceremoniously — shot to death in the show’s final season. Simon made the offer on Twitter while explaining the urgency: the candidates in question must raise $100,000 by the end of 2017 to earn matching funds from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Article you won’t read in Sunburn –Florida Legislative Session 2018: Five issues to watch” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times because the first two issues the story highlights are “budget” and “education.” Really, the budget and education should be watched this Session. #Shocking

Richard Corcoran vows to pass ‘sanctuary city’ ban bill on week 1 of Session” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — On week one of Session, House Speaker Corcoran is determined to pass a bill that would penalize local officials who support the passage of so-called “sanctuary city” policies. State Rep. Larry Metz championed an identical bill last year that passed the Florida House, but went nowhere in the Senate. The same effort, however, went nowhere in the Senate. House leadership has made it a priority to push through the bill this year, but whether history will repeat itself in the Senate remains to be seen. Republican Sens. Aaron Bean and Greg Steube are leading the effort in their chamber.

Children collateral damage in opioid epidemic” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — With a 35 percent jump in opioid-related deaths in 2016, legislators are considering a variety of options to stop the spread of drug addiction and to keep patients from getting hooked on prescription medicines that can lead to the use of even more lethal street drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl. Policymakers are focusing their attention on drug users, dealers and doctors. But child-welfare advocates want to make sure that the needs of wounded children and other family members – the collateral damage in the life of an active addict – aren’t forgotten. Teenagers and tweens with drug-addicted parents may not have to enter the child-welfare system because they are not as vulnerable as younger children, who are dependent on others to provide basic necessities, like preparing meals or bathing. The statistics are staggering across the state. The Legislature, which begins its annual session Jan. 9, is moving forward with another Scott proposal that would limit doctors to prescribing seven days’ worth of opioids for patients with acute pain. Research shows a direct correlation between the length of the first prescription for pain medications and the chances of becoming hooked on the drugs. But focusing solely on addicts or would-be users is only a partial solution, child-welfare experts agree.

Group supports Bob Rommel, Dennis Baxley for bills on campus free speech” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Generation Opportunity is sending out campaign mailers lauding Republican state Rep. Rommel and Republican state Sen. Baxley for their support of freedom of speech because the pair introduced bills this Session seeking to prevent college campuses from restricting free speech to “free speech zones.” Generation Opportunity, which promotes conservative economics among young adults, is related to but independent from Americans for Prosperity, the conservative-economics group founded by Charles Koch and David Koch. The Gen-Op Florida flyers going out in Rommel’s House District 106 and Baxley’s Senate District 12 are paid for by Americans for Prosperity. The free-speech on campus issue is one Generation Opportunity has been pushing for a long time, and the Florida measures are similar to bills recently approved in Missouri and Virginia. Rommel’s House Bill 909 and Baxley’s Senate Bill 1234 are titled the “Campus Free Expression Act” and seek to end a practice on many college and university campuses that allow students to exercise free speech only in designated areas. Both bills were filed Dec. 11. Neither has received committee assignments.

Here are the mailers:


Never satisfied, environmentalists should just take the win for Lake O reservoir” via Florida Politics — What the Legislature ultimately approved — in the form of a somewhat more palatable Senate Bill 10 — was praised by environmental activists, farming interests (including the sugar industry), local and state leaders. Heralded as a “grand compromise,” SB 10 began the process of building a new southern reservoir, settling the issue once and for all. Or so many thought. Since then, a handful of environmental organizations — the Everglades Foundation, the Sierra Club, Bullsugar among others — began raising concerns over the South Florida Water Management District’s modeling used to develop the reservoir. They just don’t use enough land, the environmentalists say. So why now the red flags? Is it possible that, after a rare legislative success, these environmental groups are seeking further relevance? Or are they so hellbent on buying land, they will risk a Hail Mary pass to get what they wanted — and lost — in the Legislature? Perhaps these concerns are less about the survival of the Everglades than they are about the survival of the Everglades Foundation (and its satellite organizations)?

Bill would pave way for slot machines in north Florida” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A north Florida lawmaker has filed legislation to again allow Gadsden County to hold a “countywide referendum” on authorizing slot machine gambling at a local racetrack. Rep. Ramon Alexander, a Democrat who represents Gadsden and part of Leon County, filed the bill (HB 1111) Tuesday for the 2018 Legislative Session starting next week. But the bill may be a long shot in a Republican-controlled House that opposes expanding gambling. Gretna and Gadsden County — which has “unique economic development challenges,” the bill says — have long sought to add slots.

Bills of late Don Hahnfeldt to be transferred Speaker Corcoran said Tuesday that a motion during Opening Day of Session would be made to transfer the bills sponsored by Hahnfeldt, who unexpectedly died during Christmas break. To accommodate sponsorship, Corcoran said members would be allowed to exceed their six bill limit if necessary. Days before he died, Hahnfeldt filed a bill that would raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The Republican from The Villages was the chief sponsor of nine other measures.

Tweet, tweet:

Florida Cabinet looks less relevant than ever in 2018” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Gov. Scott has scheduled only eight Cabinet meetings for the year ahead, with no meetings in April, July, October and November, those latter two months being close to a busy general election cycle when statewide candidates are usually far from Tallahassee. But Cabinet meetings also are among those rare instances when Scott holds question-and-answer sessions with Capitol reporters. Those will be fewer and farther between in 2018. The Cabinet, made up of Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, met 11 times in 2017 and 2016 and 15 times in 2014.


Gov. Scott ‘hopes’ Congress finds permanent solution to kids health program funding” via Ryan Benk of WJCT – Congress has passed a funding measure that keeps the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) going through March — the program insures hundreds of thousands of kids in Florida. But without a permanent solution in place by the end of January, many families could see their coverage lapse and Gov. Scott won’t say whether they should be worried. The temporary funding bill partially funds a continuation of CHIP through March. The program helps cover around 200,000 Florida kids from low-income families who don’t qualify for Medicaid but still can’t afford private insurance. Congressional leaders promise a more permanent compromise by the end of this month, but if an agreement isn’t reached, some states — including Florida — will run out of money. In Jacksonville, Scott wouldn’t say whether the state would warn parents of possible disenrollment. “The goal is that the federal government continues the program. Our Agency for Health Care Administration has been working with the federal government,” he said. “We’ve been talking about extending it and I hope that’s what they do.”

Talk is cheap, and help is expensive: Gov. Rick Scott hosted a roundtable in Miami to discuss ongoing relief efforts after Hurricane Maria. Last month, he urged Congress to pass disaster relief funding.

Lottery lawsuit on ‘pathway to resolution,’ new filing saysvia Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Attorneys for the Florida Lottery and House Speaker Corcoran have confirmed a tentative end to their fight over a multimillion-dollar agency contract, saying in a Tuesday court filing they’re officially on a “pathway to resolution.” The sides filed a status report in the case, now with the 1st District Court of Appeal, asking that the lawsuit stay open but continue in a holding pattern till April 1, after the end of the 2018 Legislative Session. That’s because the “resolution of this matter will turn on the results of the appropriation process,” the report said … Last month, the Lottery agreed to tweak a multiyear deal — for new equipment and other items — to require legislative oversight and approval. 

Corrine Brown asks appeals court for prison reprieve” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Slated to report to prison Jan. 29, former Congresswoman Brown is asking a federal appeals court to allow her to remain free while she continues to fight her conviction on charges related to a charity scam. Brown’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, filed a 37-page document at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that seeks to keep her out of prison while an appeal is pending. The request is based on what will be a key issue in the appeal: whether U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan improperly removed a juror who said during deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty. Kent wrote that the issue could lead to the reversal of Brown’s conviction and, as a result, she should stay out of prison during the appeal. But Corrigan, who sentenced Brown to five years in prison, refused last month to allow her to remain free during the appeal and said she is required to report to prison by noon Jan. 29. Corrigan also rejected arguments that he improperly dismissed the juror.

City of Tallahassee, Democrat forge settlement agreement over public records suit” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — The suit alleges that City Manager Rick Fernandez, who is on a paid leave of absence, deleted text messages that showed he asked a local lobbyist for four expensive skybox tickets to a Florida State football game in 2016. When a Democrat reporter asked the city to produce those text messages, the city said no such record existed. Fernandez told the newspaper he never received such tickets. The lobbyist worked at the time of the request for a firm that is at the heart of a federal investigation of the city-county Community Redevelopment Agency and several key business leaders. Under the settlement agreement, which is expected to be Wednesday’s City Commission agenda, the city will formally admit to a violation of the public records law. It then goes on to establish a public records retention policy that may be a model for other cities in the Sunshine State. It recommends several policy changes for commissioners to consider for adoption.


In a two-part series of tweets, U.S. Sen. Rubio claimed government reform will only “fully benefit” a specialized workforce and emphasized the importance of vocational training.

This take grabbed the attention of The online conservative news site used the tweets to highlight the need for evolving education in a changing workforce. There’s a stigma associated with vocational training, RedState’s Joe Cunningham argues, and it’s time for a paradigm shift.

The problem: “Many traditional public schools still hold on to the idea that you need four classes of academic-focused English classes, rather than training kids to write in a professional or business perspective,” writes Cunningham. “They are frequently taught to write short stories and poems but hardly ever taught to write a resume or cover letter.”

The tweets: “#TaxCuts & less regs will grow economy. But only workers with right skills will fully benefit from this growth,” per Rubio’s Twitter. “This is why focus on #VocationalTraining & #Apprenticeship programs for young Americans & displaced workers is more important than ever.”

Something to think about: “Not every student needs a high-level physics or calculus class, but everyone should take business math or a personal finance class,” writes Cunningham.

***Nursing home care is better in states with a Certificate of Need process, because it ensures seniors have access to the right type of care where in the areas they need it most. The best way to ensure a high-quality long-term care sector that balances the need for nursing home care and home and community-based services is to preserve Florida’s Certificate of Need process. That’s why everyone who cares about Florida’s elders should reject the Constitution Revision Commission proposal to eliminate Certificate of Need in Florida.***


Florida’s raging debate over … Daylight Saving Time?” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube wants to exempt Florida from the clock-changing tradition and make our state the only one east of the Rockies operating on a different timetable. If you drive across the Georgia state line, you’d lose an hour. If you drove back, you’d gain one. But don’t fuel up the DeLorean just yet. One of Steube’s fellow Republicans, Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, has filed a dueling daylight bill to do just the opposite and make DST permanent — if Congress first OKs it. So much DST to debate! I have given both arguments solemn consideration and determined that, on this issue, I am … passionately indifferent. I just don’t care — at least not compared to the gobs of other issues I’d rather state leaders tackle. Some people love DST. Others hate it. A few wished they could go back in time and murder the guy who invented it. A few more were enraged at people who incorrectly called it Daylight “Savings” Time (with an “s”). And several people said they can never remember which time was DST and which wasn’t … which made them angry as well. Very few were indifferent.


Roger Stone discloses secret foreign lobbying” via LegiStorm — Stone … indicated that he secretly signed a client in May of last year to lobby on security interests in Somalia as the U.S. military sent troops there. Stone filed a lobbying disclosure about the work Dec. 29, although it indicates the effective date of registration was May 1. That makes it more than six months late after the 45-day window expired in which he was required to register. The late disclosure occurred even as federal agents are showing intense interest in the financial connections that Trump advisers have to foreign interests. The client is Capstone Financial Group Inc., a Buffalo, New York-area firm that specializes in international commodities. The small-cap company trades on the over-the-counter market. Its stock nearly quadrupled from $. 95 to $3.70 in the three months after Trump’s election, but the price has since plummeted to $. 75 … Stone was to lobby for Capstone on “commodity rights and security of the same in Somalia.” The effective registration date was just two weeks after Trump sent dozens of troops to Somalia to combat the al-Shabab terrorist group.

Personnel note: Lawrence Mower joins Times/Herald capital bureauvia Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Hailing from the Palm Beach Post’s investigative team, Mower is the newest reporter to join the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau. Mower started the job last week and will cover state government and the Legislature, just in time for Session, which starts Jan. 9. “I’m really happy to be here during a pretty exciting time in the capital,” Mower said. Mower fills the position left vacant by Jeremy Wallace, who left the Times/Herald bureau last year for the Houston Chronicle. Mower joins Elizabeth Koh and Emily Mahoney as the bureau’s newest reporters.

— ALOE —

AAA promotes ‘Slow Down, Move Over’ month” via Florida Politics — January is “Move Over” month in Florida, according to a Tuesday news release from AAA-The Auto Club Group. A new law requires passing motorists to give adequate space to law enforcement, tow truck drivers, utility service vehicles and other first responders that are stopped on the side of the road. “This law is in place to protect the ones who protect us,” AAA spokeswoman Montrae Waiters said in a statement … The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reported 204 crashes and 68 injuries as a result of a motorists’ failing to move over in 2016.

Can’t wait to readTravel as a Political Act by Rick Steves. “With the world facing divisive events and movements like the rise of nationalism, Trump, Brexit, Erdogan, and more, there’s never been a more important time to travel. Steves believes the risks of travel are widely exaggerated, and that fear is for people who don’t get out much. After years of living out of a suitcase, he still marvels at how different cultures may find different truths to be self-evident. By sharing his experiences from Europe, Central America, Asia, and the Middle East, Rick shows how we can learn more about own country by viewing it from afar.”

Happy birthday to one of the hardest working activists in the state, Ella Coffee, as well as to Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski, Rachel Gelbmann of the First Amendment Foundation, and big thinker Ed Turanchik.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Downtown Ramen Bar opening in Tallahassee this week


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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Michael Moline, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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