Jax – Page 4 – Florida Politics

Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis forms statewide political committee

Garrett Dennis, a Jacksonville City Councilman who has yet to file for re-election in the 2019 election, launched a statewide political committee Wednesday.

Together We Stand is the name of the committee.

Dennis noted that the committee, being statewide, has the “ability” to help candidates outside of Duval County.

He was non-specific about the purpose of the committee when asked.

“This is an opportunity to support issues and elect great candidates.  Candidates supported by ‘Together We Stand’ will be individuals who have a heart for the community and are true public servants.  Issues supported by ‘Together We Stand’ will focus on priorities that are important to the community,” Dennis asserted Wednesday morning.

Dennis, a first-term Democrat, has clashed repeatedly with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and his allies, including the next City Council President, Aaron Bowman.

Bowman, who handles business recruitment as VP of the Chamber’s “JAXUSA Partnership,” this week contended that multiple sources told him that Dennis urged them to pull pledged support from his candidacy for the presidency of the 19-person body.

Dennis has also charged Mayor Curry and his senior staff with serial intimidation in recent months.

Dennis’ summation of the administration’s strategy: “If you don’t do this, we’ll do this.”

He reiterated claims of “threats” levied on him “in offices,” “comments from the Mayor” in which Curry purportedly said that he would “make sure the money spigot is turned off in [Dennis’] district.”

“Now you see the full staff at council meetings,” Dennis said, with “all the [Mayor’s] top lieutenants on the first and second row” with an “intimidating” look and “subliminal tactics.”

Dennis has seen his legislation killed, including an ill-fated attempt to establish “hit-free zones” on Jacksonville city property.

Dennis had described a climate of fear before, of course, issuing troubling allegations in January of this year.

“Let me be honest and clear … standing up is not easy. I’ve been threatened by this administration. I’ve been told that I’m a ‘walking dead man’,” the councilman said.

“It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to go get a concealed weapon permit and carry a gun on me because I’ve been told by this administration that I’m a walking dead man,” Dennis said.

The Curry administration has consistently denied Dennis’ accounting of events.

Dennis currently is the Finance Chair; however, with Bowman poised to take the presidency in July, it remains to be seen how much power Dennis will have after his ally Anna Lopez Brosche gives up the gavel.

Meanwhile, Dennis will face opposition should he file for re-election.

Marcellus Holmes, a former NFL player, filed earlier this spring.

Holmes has yet to record fundraising through two months in the race.

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney expands cash lead in re-election bid

Time was when Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney seemed vulnerable in his re-election bid.

The Democrat, representing a district that sprawls from Downtown toward the airport, has dealt with legal scrapes in the past ranging from his nonprofit’s Medicaid overbilling (an issue in the 2015 campaign) to double dipping on homestead exemption claims (an issue while in office).

However, with the first election in ten months, and the unitary election a year away, Gaffney is building a formidable war chest, loaded with maximum contributions from some of Jacksonville’s most influential individuals and lobbyists.

Gaffney’s April was his best month of fundraising since he opened his campaign account in September.

Gaffney brought in $9,400, giving him $46,100 raised and nearly $42,000 cash on hand.

Among the donors: Michael Ward, former CSX executive currently with the Jacksonville Civic Council; Darnell Smith of Florida Blue, the most recent past Jax Chamber chair; the Fiorentino Group; Advanced Disposal; and Eagle LNG.

As well, the Democratic Services Network — an interesting committee with money from entities ranging from the Florida Democratic Party to AIF’s “Voice of Florida Business PAC” and red-light camera concern American Traffic Solutions — anted up.

Gaffney’s closest competition, Sharise Riley, is largely self-financed and has just over $7,000 on hand.

Reuters the latest to zing Jacksonville over release of public records

A reporter from Reuters recently had a row with Jacksonville officials regarding claimed exemptions from disclosure of public records related to informational technology.

The city has had its approach to public records disclosure questioned by local media in recent days, via a panel in the city’s “Open Government Task Force” and on Twitter; however, the Reuters reporter (who generally doesn’t deal with local officials) offered his own take independently of that process, claiming that the city was using a statutory protection from exemptions “like a ball peen hammer.”

Reuters reporter Ryan McNeil wanted the last few years of records on IT security audits of city websites and/or computer networks, penetration and vulnerability testing, the city’s cyberinsurance policy, claims made on said policy and payments of ransom demands, as well as documentation of breaches.

McNeil was to find his request substantially frustrated, however, via claims of exemption from inspection of public records pursuant to Florida Statute, Section 119.071 (3).

McNeil let loose with an epic reply to the city’s custodian of public records: “On behalf of myself and Reuters,  I raise strong objection to the city’s interpretation of its requirements under Florida’s broad open government laws. To be clear, there is no way 119.071(3) covers all of the responsive records. I strongly urge you to re-evaluate this denial.”

McNeil notes that “Florida public officials are required to take a narrow approach to exemptions.” And when exemptions apply, the sensitive information should be, per statute, redacted. Not addressed via a blanket denial, which per McNeil “is neither narrow nor does it comply with requirements to produce non-exempt information.”

McNeil contends “the city has attempted to use 119.071(3) like a ball peen hammer,” before drawing conclusions based on elided answers.

“For example, based on your response, apparently the city has made payments and/or communicated with people making a ransom demand as part of a cyber incident. We asked for ‘documentation of payments made to any entity as part of a ransom demand following a cyber incident as well as any correspondence made to or from the entities making the demand.’ These types of records in no way, shape or form relate ‘directly to the physical security of the facility’ nor do they reveal ‘security systems’,” McNeil writes, before posing provocative questions.

“Is the city arguing that it can make secret payments to satisfy ransom demands under Florida law? Additionally, is the city arguing it can have secret communications with those demanding taxpayer monies be used to satisfy a ransom demand?”

Along these lines, McNeil wondered if the city was “arguing that it can have secret contracts with vendors merely because they provide cybersecurity-related services,” based on declared exemption from disclosure.

“The same arguments can be applied to every single one of the blanket denials,” McNeil argued, a “blanket exemption [which] is not appropriate and inconsistent with Florida’s broad sunshine laws.”

This email, dated May 8, came in hours before local reporters offered their own critiques of how records are handled in Jacksonville’s City Hall.

During a “media panel” in Jacksonville’s “Task Force on Open Government,” representatives from The Florida Times-Union, WJCT, and this outlet described a system in which transparency and sunshine are subjective concepts, driven by the whims of the gatekeepers.

From the minutes: “The conversation focused primarily on public records and how they are accessed and received by the media. According to the  panelists, there are often delays and unexpected costs associated with public records requests, which  according to Florida Statute should be provided at a “reasonable” cost in a “reasonable” amount of time … some readily available public records appear to go through political review before  being shared with the media, and the delays sometimes give the impression of being intentionally obstructive.”

Suggested solutions were proferred also: “Legislation could be enacted to clean up the records process – possibly with timelines; make records easier and cheaper to get; incorporate public records sharing as a regular part of government.”

However, the Office of General Counsel’s representative on hand diverged from the concord of the media panel members: “Jon Phillips, Office of General Counsel, expressed doubts about the public records obstacles and delays described by the media panel.”

What is clear: there is a real gap between the way the media interprets the Sunshine Law and the concept of open government and the way city officials interpret it.

Gaps have been identified before, of course, and will continue to be. With informational technology what it is, it is possible for all intragovernmental emails and texts to be online, made available in close to a real time way.

The reality, at least in Jacksonville, is one of selective disclosure. For example, the only publicly available email addresses, of the Mayor and his senior staff, are not updated in a time-sensitive manner. And if Lenny Curry doesn’t have a secondary official business email, well, questions are raised, given that the official inbox is little more than a fruitless farrago of crank correspondence and conspiracy theory.

Likewise, individual emails of Council members are available on no portal. While technology allows for a real-time cataloguing of such, legislative will doesn’t compel such.

And texts? Good luck.

As the Florida Times-Union found when investigating text messages that swayed a line-item during a budget vote, texts were difficult to obtain, with some members of the City Council seemingly unaware that part of the job description was to be a custodian of their public records.

Jacksonville’s latest slogan, “It’s easier here,” simply doesn’t apply to the city and its haphazard commitment to the Sunshine Law and public records disclosures. Local reporters have been acutely aware of that. And Reuters just got its education.

Sam Newby drops bid for Jacksonville City Council VP; three hopefuls remain

The clouded picture in the race for Jacksonville City Council Vice-President cleared up Tuesday, with Sam Newby dropping out to focus on his re-election bid.

Jacksonville Daily Record reporter David Cawton broke the news on Twitter.

Newby, an at-large Councilman, faces one opponent thus far for re-election.

The first-term Republican’s exit from the race leaves three candidates standing: Democrat Tommy Hazouri and Republicans Danny Becton and Scott Wilson. And thus far, none of the candidates have galvanized much support.

Hazouri, a political veteran who has been Jacksonville Mayor as well as a State Representative and School Board member, sees the VP role as the logical next level. However, he hasn’t been put in the spotlight during his time on Council, and pledges have eluded him.

Becton, a fiscal watchdog from the Southside, is a Republican in his first-term. Jim Love is a pledged supporter.

Wilson, likewise a Republican in his first term, sought the VP role last year, but was steamrolled in the vote by current VP Aaron Bowman.

Wilson had support from Bill GullifordJohn Crescimbeni, and Joyce Morgan, among others, in that bid. None of them have pledged support to anyone in the current field.

While the VP spot is in doubt until Tuesday’s vote, the same doesn’t hold true for the top job.

Bowman has a majority of Council’s pledged support, and all expectations are that the Chamber Republican will function seamlessly with Mayor Lenny Curry.

Council votes on these offices next Tuesday, and pledge meetings will take place throughout the next week.

New officers take control July 1.

Spin ’em: Jacksonville race track appeals slot machine denial

In another gambling case that could reach the state Supreme Court, a Jacksonville casino is appealing the state’s ending of its quest for a slot machine license.

Jacksonville Kennel Club, which does business as bestbet, filed a notice of appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday after the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) turned down its slots application last month. The department regulates gambling through its Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering.

Any addition of new slots is opposed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which pays the state millions each year for the exclusive right to offer slots at its casinos outside South Florida.

Moreover, a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November would require the statewide approval of voters before any expansion of gambling — and its backers say the measure would have retroactive effect.

The crux of the Jacksonville appeal is last May’s unanimous Supreme Court decision denying slot machines to a track in Gretna, Gadsden County, and in other counties that passed local referendums authorizing slots. Duval was one such county, which passed a referendum by 54 percent in 2016; bestbet Jacksonville wants to add slots to its poker and simulcast wagering.

The opinion by Justice Charles Canady found that “nothing in (state gambling law) grants any authority to regulate slot machine gaming to any county.”

The opinion added, however, the “general power of non-charter counties to ‘carry on county government’ does not constitute authorization to conduct a referendum to approve slot machine gaming.” (“Charters are formal written documents that confer powers, duties, or privileges on the county,” according to the Florida Association of Counties.)

Duval is a charter county, and the Jacksonville track argues the Gretna decision doesn’t apply to charter counties.

DBPR counters that it does, and that Duval and other counties’ slots referendums weren’t allowed under a constitutional amendment narrowly passed by statewide voters in 2004.

It legalized slots at existing jai-alai frontons and horse and dog racetracks only in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and only if voters there OK’d it in referendums, which they did.

The track is represented by the Korn & Zehmer law firm of Jacksonville and the Lockwood Law Firm of Tallahassee.

A similar appeal is pending in the 4th District Court of Appeal by the company doing business as the Palm Beach Kennel Club. The Lockwood firm also is involved in that case. Palm Beach County passed a slots referendum in 2012.

Last week, that court decided to “dispense with oral argument,” meaning a three-judge panel of the court will decide the case solely on the filings.

Prosecutors fire back at Corrine Brown on disputed juror

Prosecutors are asking a federal appeals court to uphold former Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s conviction in a charity scam, blasting her arguments that a juror was improperly dismissed because he said the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty.

In a 62-page brief filed last week in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, prosecutors said a district judge acted properly in replacing the juror with an alternate and disputed that the decision violated the religious rights of the man, identified in court documents as Juror No. 13.

“The decision to remove a sitting juror is a significant one that justifiably warrants careful, albeit deferential, review by this (appeals) court,” the document said. “The district court’s decision here handily withstands that review. The court took this issue very seriously and removed the juror only after having carefully considered whether that juror would be able to follow the court’s instructions and decide the case based on the evidence. And the court did so only after having concluded that the juror’s decision — that he had been told by the Holy Spirit, before deliberations had even begun, that Brown was not guilty of all 24 charged crimes — was not based on the juror’s evaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence.”

Brown, who was convicted last year on 18 felony counts and sentenced to five years in prison, has focused her appeal on the decision by U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan to dismiss the juror.

The issue about the religious statements started after the jury had started deliberating in Brown’s case. Another juror, identified as Juror No 8, informed the court that she had concerns about the man because of his statements. Corrigan questioned Juror No. 13 before deciding to replace him with an alternate. The jury subsequently found Brown guilty of the charges.

In a brief filed in March in the Atlanta-based appeals court, Brown’s attorney argued the conviction should be tossed out because of Corrigan’s decision.

“The record in this case supports only one conclusion: that this juror was basing his verdict on his view of the sufficiency of the evidence, after prayerful consideration and as he saw it, in his mind, guidance from the Holy Spirit,” attorney William Mallory Kent, wrote in the brief. “Whether he should or should not have depended on any guidance from the Holy Spirit does not resolve the matter in favor of his dismissal, because the well established law in this and other circuits is that so long as there is any reasonable possibility that the juror is basing his view on the sufficiency of the evidence, he may not be dismissed. Dismissal requires substantial evidence that the juror is engaged in willful misconduct.”

But in the document filed last week urging the appeals court to uphold the conviction, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said Corrigan correctly determined that Juror No. 13 couldn’t follow jury instructions in deciding the case.

“The record amply supports the court’s findings that Juror No. 13 was not following the court’s instructions, did not understand that he was not following those instructions, and, if left on the jury, would likely continue not to follow those instructions,” prosecutors wrote. “Juror No. 8 was concerned enough about Juror No. 13 that she brought to the district court’s attention his repeated comments that a ‘Higher Being’ had told him that ‘Corrine Brown was Not Guilty on all charges’ and that he ‘trusted the Holy Ghost.’ And she explained that other jurors were concerned too.”

Brown, a former 12-term Democratic congresswoman from Jacksonville, was convicted on fraud and tax charges related to her role in using contributions to the One Door for Education charity for personal expenses and events.

In sentencing Brown in December, Corrigan issued a 25-page order that said the One Door for Education charity, which was originally established to help children, was “operated as a criminal enterprise” by Brown, her longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, and the charity’s founder, Carla Wiley.

Brown, 71, long an influential figure in Jacksonville, represented a congressional district that stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando. She lost a re-election bid in 2016 after the district’s boundaries had been substantially redrawn and as she faced the criminal charges. She is an inmate at the Coleman federal prison in Sumter County, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Sunshine Law breach accusations infuse drama into uncontested Jacksonville City Council president’s race

As storm clouds loom over the Sunshine State, the same holds true (at least potentially) for Jacksonville’s Sunshine Law.

And a public notice meeting Tuesday morning called by Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis addressed how those clouds may be occluding the race for the presidency of the City Council.

The meeting was requested by Dennis to “discuss allegations made by Council Vice President Aaron Bowman on the topic of Sunshine Violations for the upcoming Council Leadership vote.”

However, clarity was not to be provided Tuesday, as Bowman was not at the meeting. And neither was the head of the city’s ethics office, Carla Miller, who had been expected.

Sunshine Law dictates that conversations between councilmembers on official business, including but not limited to leadership votes, happen in noticed meetings. Bowman and Dennis seemed to charge each other with violations of that sacrosanct credo.

Bowman, who has enough pledges secured to win the race outright (assuming they all come through), said Monday he was “told by multiple sources that Dennis has been talking about [Bowman’s] leadership endeavor.”

Bowman asked Dennis to stop talking about Bowman’s race for council presidency.

We reached out to Dennis for his version of events, and he noted some concerns with the way Bowman is doing business. Among them, the fact that four members were talking to Bowman about his candidacy outside the sunshine, and the fact that Bowman wanted to discuss the matter outside a noticed meeting.

Bowman sent Dennis an email chiding him, Dennis claimed.

“Sorry you doubled down,” Bowman wrote about Dennis insisting upon a noticed meeting. “It could have been easy.”

Dennis wanted to know what Bowman meant by “double down,” he said, and how it was that Bowman talking to members about the leadership race outside of the sunshine wasn’t a sunshine violation.

And that set the stage for a riveting public notice meeting Tuesday, one that included current Council President Anna Brosche as the only other person at the table.

Dennis spotlighted “repeated phone calls and emails” from Council VP Bowman, calls that “disturbed” him.

“I wouldn’t characterize us as being friends,” Dennis said, outlining a series of missed calls between the two over the weekend.

Bowman signaled his intention to file a “formal ethics complaint,” Dennis said, before spotlighting an email exchange between the councilmen and Ethics Head Miller.

Dennis wanted a public meeting, and he got one — though Miller and Bowman were not present.

Dennis wanted to know who his “accusers” were, and if he had the “right to stand in front of [those] accusers.” He also wanted clarity on why Bowman wanted a private meeting, why he used the phrases “doubled down” and “could have been easy.”

“This has nothing to do with his presidency. This has to do with me being able to stand in front of my accusers,” Dennis said. “Today I wanted to stand in front of my accusers.”

But the accusers were nowhere to be found. Neither was the head of ethics.

In remarks to the media after the brief, inconclusive meeting, Dennis would not say directly that Bowman violated the Sunshine Law.

“I’ve been instructed by the General Counsel not to say that,” Dennis said.

Dennis, who chairs the Finance Committee, likely won’t have that prerogative next year. Bowman, per Dennis, is a “staunch supporter of the Mayor” — a political enemy of Dennis’.

As well, with re-election campaigns looming ahead of the March 2019 “first election,” Dennis may see his opponent backed by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce — for which Bowman is a VP for the business recruitment arm, JAXUSA.

Dennis professes not to be worried about losing his re-election bid, saying that his “constituents” will decide in the end.

Though Dennis says there is no “bad blood” between himself and Bowman, what is clear is that there is very little in the way of constructive dialogue, and that the exchanges in recent days will cast a pall over next week’s leadership elections for the Jacksonville City Council, votes which will see Bowman elected president.

Republican Audrey Moran the latest endorsement for Democrat Tracye Polson’s HD 15 bid

In 2011, which was a different time in Jacksonville politics, Republican Audrey Moran was a strong candidate for Mayor.

Though Moran fell short of the runoff election, her candidacy is still seen by many as an intersection of purpose and politics.

Moran’s days of running for public office appear to be over; however, she is still active in the scene, and crossed party lines to endorse Tracye Polson for State House Tuesday.

“Dr. Tracye Polson will bring fresh ideas and strong leadership to Tallahassee,” said Audrey Moran in a statement from the Polson campaign.

“She is smart, collaborative and courageous. Tracye is a first-time candidate for public office and a breast cancer survivor. She knows our community and is ready to fight for what Jacksonville needs. Tracye will represent all of the people in her district and I am proud to endorse her,” Moran added.

“Earning the trust and support of such an influential community presence is an indication our campaign continues to extend its reach, connecting with a wide range of voters including business leaders.  Because of her experience and insight, Audrey’s counsel will be invaluable and I am deeply grateful to have her endorsement,” said Tracye Polson.

Though it is typical for Jacksonville-area Democrats running for Republican-held State House seats to run “grassroots” campaigns bereft of material resources, Polson is blazing her own trail.

Polson, just endorsed this week als by Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police, is positioned for a general election battle against a Republican candidate. Remarkable, given that current incumbent Jay Fant waltzed to re-election just two years ago without opposition, and that it has been years since Democrats have even tried in this Westside Jacksonville district.

Between her campaign account and that of her “Better Jacksonville” political committee, she raised $36,983.03 in April. The total raised is over $211,000 now, which is far and away the biggest nestegg for any Jacksonville State House candidate, Republican or Democrat.

The closest Republican: Wyman Duggan, a lawyer for Rogers Towers with City Hall connections, raised $7,010 in April (a month that saw him endorsed by the political committee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce), pushing him over $120,000 raised and $99,000 cash on hand.

Alvin Brown lauds Ramadan, decries anti-Muslim discrimination

Former Jacksonville Mayor and current 5th Congressional District Democratic hopeful Alvin Brown became the first and so far only North Florida candidate this cycle to laud the beginning of Ramadan.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Brown lauded the beginning of the month-long celebration, while decrying discrimination against American Muslims.

“At sunset, Muslims in my district and across America will begin their month long celebration of the holy month of Ramadan. The month is an auspicious time for the Muslim community, when the faithful will use the month to not only fast from dawn to dusk each day but also spend time to renew the spirit of their faith,” Brown asserted.

“Our nation is founded on the creed ‘E Pluribus Unum’ and this creed affirms that diversity is our national strength. We celebrate that diversity by recognizing religious pluralism as foundational to our national unity,” Brown added.

“At a time when the American Muslim community is facing unprecedented bigotry and discrimination, I join all Americans of goodwill and conscience to uphold the dignity of all our citizens. May this Ramadan be a source of blessings and joy to all those who choose to celebrate this month. Santhea and I wish all my American Muslim neighbors a very Blessed Ramadan,” Brown concluded.

Brown is primarying Rep. Al Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat, in the safely Democratic North Florida seat that sprawls west from Jacksonville through the state capital.

The race thus far is a tight one in terms of fundraising.

As of the end of March, Lawson’s campaign had just under $160,000 on hand — roughly half of the almost $320,000 raised, with very little laid out in the way of a campaign infrastructure.

Brown, who raised $167,000 in his first quarter in the race, had almost $128,000 on hand.

One more round: Jack Daniels takes another shot at Jacksonville City Council

Recent electoral setbacks weren’t last call for the peripatetic political career of Jacksonville’s Jack Daniels as he has again filed to run for the Jacksonville City Council.

Daniels, who shares his name with a consumer product, has taken many shots at electoral office. Yet, despite his efforts, the glass has come up empty time after time.

Still, he continues his efforts. And in 2019, he will get an electoral rematch against District 2 Republican Al Ferraro, the man who beat him three years ago.

Daniels last made a bid for office in 2016, when he ran in the House District 11 primary.

His gimmick in that race: not raising money.

“I had decided to accept political money and refuse to let it corrupt me. But when it was offered and I thought about what would happen if I didn’t let it corrupt me, I rejected it. For I just can’t be a political whore bought and paid for by the lobbyists, special interests, and the others,” Daniels asserted.

The reason he opted not to raise money in that unsuccessful State House campaign: he felt it corrupted the process in his previous Council bid.

Daniels, who raised less than $8,000 for his race, had good ROI: he received 27 percent of the vote.

“Since I hadn’t accepted any political money, my campaign for City Council consisted of almost nothing but a year of door-to-door visits. In contrast, since my opponent accepted it, his campaign consisted of paid advice from expert political consultants, continuous paid advertisement promoting his candidacy in the media, numerous paid campaigners for him who made thousands of door to door visits to frequent voters, a multitude of campaign signs, many mailings to frequent voters promoting his candidacy, etc,” Daniels contended.

Despite all of this drama, Daniels endorsed Ferraro — the “opponent.” Daniels told The Florida Times-Union that Ferraro is “a really hard worker, and I think he’d be a very good person to be a council person.”

Meanwhile, another defeated opponent, Democrat Lisa King, asserted that Daniels tried to cut a deal for him endorsing her ahead of the runoff. Daniels denied that.

Daniels begins the race with a considerable financial disadvantage to incumbent Ferraro, who has over $35,000 on hand after raising $7,105 in April.

Ferraro got donations from Lenny Curry‘s “Build Something That Lasts” political committee, as well as “Bold City Strategic Partners,” the shop of Curry operative Tim Baker.

The political committee of Gray Robinson chipped in, as did Summit Contracting and Padgett Properties

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