Solutions to our problems

Tonight Wicomico County Councilman Bill McCain hosted a townhall-style meeting designed to solicit solutions to the county’s present and upcoming budget woes. While yesterday’s Daily Times article pointed out that McCain was looking for suggested possible fixes, many of the nearly two dozen speakers had a single message: taxes are too high and they couldn’t afford anymore increases there. “Stay within your budget,” warned resident Kay Gibson.

A number of speakers echoed their personal economic struggles; resident Ed Nelson said it well when he noted, “times are tough for everyone.”

But Bill was blunt: “you will have serious, serious services eliminated in Wicomico County” next year – “what are you willing to give up?” He continued, “we need to do things differently…unfortunately, we have capped ourselves on the revenue side.”

McCain is in somewhat of a unique position, as the FY2011 budget will be the last he’ll have input into – he’s chosen not to seek re-election, maintaining his original plan to serve one term. But he was determined to maintain his home and business here, so it’s obvious McCain is planning to stay involved. Two other council members who would presumably maintain their positions, John Cannon and Sheree Sample-Hughes, were also in attendance.

The county’s Board of Education was also a favorite whipping boy of some. Many speakers advocated the accountability an elected school board would provide.

On that note, all three Council members present were put on the spot by questioner Joe Collins, who wanted to know how they stood on an elected school board. McCain was a firm “no,” citing the “diverse” school board we presently have. Cannon and Sample-Hughes held their cards closer to their chest, with John stating a “70-30” likelihood of support and Sample-Hughes wanting to study the particulars more – she did indicate her district was relatively supportive as was she on a personal level.

While a number of speakers commented on the revenue cap and didn’t want to see it go away, a couple observers pled for “investment.” Mark Cullen, representing the county’s volunteer firefighters, pointed out that the $4 million provided by the county covers less than half of the expenses. Instead, we’re “burning our personnel out doing fundraisers.” (Surely there was no pun intended.)

County resident John Groutt blasted the “simplistic” solutions offered by the number of “TEA Partiers” in the audience and preached “we need to invest in our children.” We also needed to address the issue of sprawl. On the other hand, it was also properly pointed out that areas which tax heavily tend to have difficulty maintaining businesses and jobs.

Most of those commenting were critical of the county’s current spending, but there were a number of good ideas pitched for consideration. Among them were:

  • Hiring a full-time auditor. The problem is that the county’s charter dictates the auditor be a CPA but the salary may not be sufficient.
  • Rein in the liquor control board.
  • Make union negotiations public as they are in Calvert County.
  • Eliminate the two at-large County Council positions.
  • Eliminate the County Executive’s Public Information Officer.
  • Instead of layoffs being the “last resort” they should be the “first resort.”
  • Replace the revenue cap with a tax rate cap, with exemptions for those on fixed incomes.
  • Rescind the increase in teacher’s retirement benefits.
  • Verify that all measures called for in the 2002 Parsons study are being followed.
  • Selling off any surplus land the county owns (my idea.)
  • Perhaps collecting some sort of tax on property owned by Salisbury University (also my idea.)

It’s worthy of note that in the last decade Wicomico County went from having the fourth highest property tax rate in the state to the fourth lowest. And if you consider education, public safety, and public works as “core functions” of government, McCain said that we spend 76% of our budget dollars on those items.

There’s no question that severe cuts will be seen when County Executive Rick Pollitt releases his FY2011 budget April 8th. But the dialogue tonight seems to suggest that raising taxes is going to be out of the question for overburdened county residents who will likely see tax increases on the federal and state levels.

Impeachment bid spurs full-fledged protest

March 30, 2010 · Posted in Baltimore Examiner · 2 Comments 

While the impeachment of state Attorney General Doug Gansler by Delegate Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel County is widely expected to be considered out of order by House leadership, this effort has sparked a protest which will occur tomorrow morning in Lawyers Mall.

Billed as a “Constitutional Freedom Rally,” supporters urge that a message be sent to Maryland elected officials that the public will not tolerate lawlessness nor will Constitutional violations be unchallenged. Organizers expect hundreds of people to rally beginning tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

(continued on my page…)

Unintended consequences strike again!

Perhaps I’m picking on our county just a little too much – but I wonder if the liability is included in the $1.5 million land price?

This came from Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt and his mouthpiece Jim Fineran:

Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt, Jr., announced today that immediate traffic control procedures will be initiated on the portion of Glen Avenue directly north of the Wicomico Youth & Center by prohibiting vehicular traffic before, during and after major Civic Center events. The action follows two hit and run accidents on March 12th, involving pedestrians crossing Glen Avenue from the old mall parking lot to the Civic Center.

“We can’t delay on taking measures to insure the safety of our Civic Center patrons,” said Pollitt. “Stopping traffic on Glen Avenue is the quickest, cheapest way to make sure that our patrons can cross over to the Civic Center in safety. When we own that parking lot, we shall make improvements and pedestrian safety will be chief among them. We need, however, to do something now.”

The old mall parking lot is not owned by Wicomico County but Civic Center patrons have been using it for overflow parking. Among the upcoming major events scheduled for the arena are Bill Cosby, the annual poodle show, high school and Salisbury University graduations and the Fernando Guerrero boxing match.

Perhaps the best solution to this issue would be to eliminate the problem entirely and permanently close the portion of Glen Avenue in front of the WYCC. (As an added bonus, we could gain some pervious surface back – maybe they’ll count it towards the requirements of new stormwater regulations!) But residents farther east along Glen Avenue may object to a permanent closure.

Another possible solution would be a traffic signal at the corner of Glen Avenue and Civic Avenue, but that costs money too. Instead we’ll pay on a per-use basis for traffic control.

My point is that the county is buying this parcel of land and building the new parking lot despite the issue which has lay dormant for awhile but reared its ugly head again after the two pedestrians were struck. For years people have used the Old Mall parking lot as a shortcut or as overflow parking to the WYCC – I’ve even done it once or twice for the former Beast of the East custom motorcycle show and other events when the main parking lot was used as part of the exhibit area.

No question there’s an issue with the WYCC site – the planners of 60 years ago when the original was built didn’t fathom the extent of parking needed for events such as those held today. It’s been my opinion that the WYCC is nearing the end of its useful lifespan because of this and other issues. Had the county been thinking, a better use for the money spent on acreage for a far-off west side park or other lands bought with Program Open Space money may have been to secure the land adjacent to Perdue Stadium for a future Civic Center – parking already exists and access from any direction is excellent. Instead, they insist on placing lipstick on the pig that’s there now.

So we will now have the confusing spectacle of traffic being redirected and misdirected during selected events (granted, I believe the WYCC already does this during the poodle show.) With the bulk of these events occurring during the evening hours, perhaps the potential for tragedy is lessened for some (the pedestrians) but increased for anyone who needs to direct traffic (county employees.)

Shortsighted solutions begat unintended consequences. It’s a rule we forgot about when we approved the land deal.

In other local news, we learned that Salisbury City Councilman Gary Comegys was diagnosed with cancer. The 2009 mayoral candidate won his current City Council term in 2007, which obviously leads to speculation as to whether he will run again next spring when his term expires. Given his perceived position on the City Council as one of the three “establishment” votes against Debbie Campbell and Terry Cohen (Cohen is also up in 2011 as is Council President Louise Smith) the prospect of an open seat may make the next year of local politics even more interesting.

But there are things more important than politics for all of us, and hopefully Comegys can make a full recovery and choose the political path he wishes to take free of any ill effects.

Rancor rises about Viagra for sex offenders

March 29, 2010 · Posted in Baltimore Examiner · Comments Off on Rancor rises about Viagra for sex offenders 

There’s no question that last week’s series of reconciliation votes on Obamacare was designed to give Republicans the opportunity to put Democrats in the embarrassing position of casting a number of controversial votes – as I noted, one amendment was placed in there to keep convicted sex offenders from securing Viagra on the federal dime. Regardless, both Maryland Senators followed all but a couple of their Democratic counterparts in voting to kill the Viagra amendment sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

(continued on my page…)

My sentiments exactly

March 28, 2010 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2010, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on My sentiments exactly 

Thanks to the Patriot Post. Didn’t have a lot of desire to write this weekend, so I’ll use this cartoon instead.

Unlike the song “Beautiful Disaster” this will be quite ugly.

It’s not so much the questionable Constitutionality of the whole bill and its voluminous fixes but the effect on the economy this will have. Several large corporations have already claimed Obamacare will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, and what’s the easiest way to shore up the bottom line? You guessed it, layoffs.

Another worrisome provision ratchets up the percentage of revenue which needs to be paid out in claims. Well, if the insurer has to pay out a larger percentage of its revenue to policyholders, what will they have left to service all those people or providers wishing to be reimbursed for their preventive care? Once again, jobs will be lost.

For each effect something like Obamacare is intended to address, somehow government creates 1,001 unintended consequences. Naturally someone will come along and want to “fix” the problems (after all, the ink on the Obamacare bill was hardly dry before a repair was in order) and that in turn will create even more chaos. It’s getting harder and harder to walk things back, especially with the accelerating pace of government involvement in my lifetime.

But try we must. Certainly I would like to see repeal of the bill as a good first step, but it’s just a baby step in the right direction to repeal this monstrosity. Multiply Obamacare and its control of 1/6 of our economy by the other 5/6 and you may begin to see the scope of what is involved. It’s a fight that will take generations to win, and even that doesn’t take into account threats from without.

I just noted on Facebook in response to some other person that my task is to educate Marylanders and anyone else who wants to listen about the benefits of limited, Constitutional government. America in the 21st century thus far is (with the possible exception of the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts) certainly not the poster child for the concept. Yet we must struggle on, and indeed I plan to.

Fighting the good fight

March 28, 2010 · Posted in Liberty Features Syndicate · Comments Off on Fighting the good fight 

It was a battle which began last spring and it took the side of right nearly a year to fall despite the odds against it. As I write this, the nationalization of one-sixth of the nation’s economy and the ability for government to pry further into all aspects of your personal life – indeed, control the fate of your very being – is essentially one House vote and one Presidential signature away from happening.

Here’s yet another lesson to show elections mean things. Despite the turnover which played a vital role in the outcome, most of the main players were elected in 2008, the year America believed in hope and change. What we hoped for and what we’d change into were simply taken at the face value of that which was promised by most, but a few thinkers foresaw this entire drama coming and, like Paul Revere, attempted to sound the alarm.

And there were hopeful moments even after the 2008 elections played out. The dreaded 60-seat Democratic majority in the Senate didn’t occur right away – while Al Franken and Norm Coleman battled out a protracted election recount, Saxby Chambliss easily won re-election to his Georgia Senate seat. This denied the Democrats their 60th vote for a time, although that possibility was reborn last April when Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter switched parties from the GOP to the Democrats. A few weeks later, Coleman conceded, Franken was sworn in, and the Democrats had their precious 60-vote majority.

That Democrat victory was short-lived, though. On August 25th Ted Kennedy died, and it took a few weeks for Paul Kirk to be named his replacement. Yet even after Kirk was sworn in, Senate Democrats still needed until Christmas Eve to hammer out their health care bill. Most importantly, there were significant differences in the bills approved by the Senate and House – changes put in place to mollify particular Senators. The term “Louisiana Purchase” gained a new meaning and we learned more than we ever wanted to know about the “Cornhusker Kickback.”

Conventional wisdom held that Congress would come back from their holiday break and figure out the details. But Scott Brown’s election on January 19 ended the prospect of a conventional conference process and bill opponents were buoyed by the presence of “Mister 41” when he was sworn in on February 4th.

However, Obamacare was resurrected from the dead once again as the House employed a number of questionable tactics to allow their membership to swallow a Senate bill few liked. That’s where we are today.

All of the drama came about despite TEA Parties, acrimonious town hall meetings, a number of Capitol rallies (including two in the last week,) and the ominous threat that those who voted for Obamacare would be committing political suicide. Perhaps it will turn out that some did, as most national polls reveal the people are against Obamacare and a poll commissioned last week by Independent Women’s Voice showed 60% of respondents would vote for a candidate who opposes “the current version of healthcare reform and wants to start over.”

While it’s likely that the courts will be deciding on key aspects of the bill for months to come, it may not matter. Obamacare wasn’t slated to take effect until 2013 anyway.

The problem is that history has shown that once a new entitlement program is created, it’s impossible to kill. For all the brave talk of repeal it’s likely that we are stuck with Obamacare because of those who placed power before people. The people fought, but unfortunately they lost. We all did.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

This cleared the LFS wire on March 23rd.

Celebrating achievement

I’ve blogged about this a couple times before, but tonight Americans who have no life and still believe in the discredited radical environmental movement will sit in the darkness and gloom to “celebrate” the so-called “Earth Hour.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute poked fun at this last year by creating Human Achievement Hour and putting out this video.

As has been tradition around this time, I engaged in the enjoyment of being there last night while thousands of watts of amplification and lighting was expended to boost the local economy of Ocean City and the personal fortunes of dozens of starving artists who are better known as musicians. (Most people call this Skip Dixxon’s Spring Luau.) My point is that it takes energy to grow an economy, but apparently those who want to curtail our usage and bring us back to a 20th or even 19th century lifestyle consider that offensive to their earth goddess.

Needless to say, I stand foursquare against those who would use the force of the state to infringe upon our freedom. Granted, Earth Hour is voluntary (for now) but even exhibiting the mindset of following like lemmings gives them the illusion of popular support and the desire to make what are now suggestions into laws.

In Maryland, this sort of thinking is leading us into even more restrictive stormwater regulations, which only curtails the production of jobs and ironically may reduce the urban development so-called “Smart Growth” advocates desire. At one point there was a compromise reached by the General Assembly which would allow existing projects to continue under the old regulations but that is now out the window – much to the displeasure of those who help to provide private-sector economic growth.

Instead, developers may have to go back to the drawing boards, instituting needless and unnecessary delays and the costs associated with them; yet the benefits are dubious and difficult to measure. Let’s face it – is Chesapeake Bay ever truly going to be clean enough for the radical environmentalists without depopulating the entire watershed? I doubt it, because solving the problem of Bay pollution would put them out of business and the lobbyists and lawyers who depend on their patronage would have to find more honest work.

So I’m going to do my part and celebrate Human Achievement Hour in some way – it may be as simple as leaving a couple extra lights on around our place – and I encourage all of you to do the same. Yes, it’s a little wasteful but the point made is that with progress comes energy demand, and that’s a fact we can’t avoid.

For the record, the state of Maryland is participating in this idiocy, along with the cities of Baltimore, Frederick, Gaithersburg, and Greenbelt; as well, Baltimore and Frederick counties. Governor O’Malley noted in a statement on the Earth Hour website:

“Maryland is an official Earth Hour state, and Katie and I will be turning off our own lights in support of this global movement. By joining us, our fellow citizens will save energy, reduce their carbon footprint and demonstrate to the nation and the world the commitment and leadership of Marylanders on this critical issue.”

So I encourage all right-thinking residents of those areas to instead participate in Human Achievement Hour, and demostrate a call for economic leadership through progress, not regressing back to the Dark Ages.

Friday night videos episode 27

March 26, 2010 · Posted in Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, Inside the Beltway, Local Music, National politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Friday night videos episode 27 

Hey, two weeks in a row! How about that? Let’s see what I have this week.

I guess we have enough anger out there over the Obamacare bill (boy did I get an earful in one Facebook forum.) Let’s try a more amusing look at the pitfalls of Obamacare from a group called TalkPAC.

And Rep. Mike Pence is right – it’s time to condemn those who turn to violence to oppose Obamacare, but it’s also time to end the smears!

On the other hand, Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak may be the most reviled man in America, particularly for pro-lifers. Here’s one reason why – he wasn’t really a firm vote against Obamacare.

Yet I thought the focus for Obama now was going to be on jobs – didn’t you? Producing our own energy resources would fit the bill.

The are jobs in the legal community, but do you ever get tired of these ambulance chasers pitching the legal lottery of having a dread disease pay off? Bob McCarty did.

Let’s transition to the music portion of FNV with this politically-charged song. A little more country than I like, but the lyrics are sound.

Now it’s time to rock. Last weekend at Marina’s up in Blades, Delaware I recorded my friends from Semiblind doing this little ditty.

This post is timed so you can enjoy it, then head over to Pickles Pub in Ocean City and enjoy Semiblind as headliners of the 8th Annual Spring Luau – Semiblind goes on at 1:00. (Why do you think I do my FNV posts in advance most of the time?)

Hopefully I’ll get more good video tonight for use in future FNV episodes.

If Republicans are from Mars, are Democrats from Venus?

March 25, 2010 · Posted in Baltimore Examiner · Comments Off on If Republicans are from Mars, are Democrats from Venus? 

Given the heated acrimony between Republicans and Democrats in the wake of a bruising debate over Obamacare, perhaps this passage related as part of a press release by U.S. Senate candidate Carmen Amedori is apt. This was placed on her Facebook page and brought to my attention:

Carmen Amedori, Republican candidate for United States Senate in Maryland, states that the incumbent Senator’s remark that “the Republican Party is from Mars” shows just how out of touch she is with the electorate.

(More on my page…feel free to subscribe there and you can get e-mail notifications when I write there!)

A prelude to April

This is actually going to be about the Americans for Prosperity meeting last night, which I was told would be a planning meeting for next month’s Tax Day TEA Party here in Salisbury. But apparently much of the event has been planned – however, what I didn’t know is that Ocean City will have one as well. More on that later, though.

To open the meeting, AFP Wicomico co-chair Julie Brewington had a monologue where she noted the Obamacare bill was “a finger poked in the face of the people” and created “a nation divided (which was) a very sad thing.” But rather than being depressed, she was “more energized than ever.”

To her, people were “fairly ignorant” on the contents of the Obamacare bill, and because of the lack of transparency, “we must change who represents us” here in Maryland.

At that point, we received some key dates.

On March 31st there will be a town hall meeting sponsored by Wicomico County Councilman Bill McCain regarding the revenue cap. McCain would prefer to see it repealed and allow the county to raise our property taxes through the roof (since property values are so far down the millage rate will probably increase regardless) but wants public input. I’m sure we’ll give it to him. The sobfest will be held in the Danang Room at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center beginning at 7 p.m.

Five days later sanity returns to the Danang Room as state Republican Chair Audrey Scott hosts a town hall meeting of her own, April 5th at 6:30 p.m. Brewington noted that the Republicans were “begging” for TEA Party input and personally I welcome them into the fold. (Otherwise there wouldn’t be any GOP Central Committee people attending AFP meetings, although the College Republicans also meet that night so that may account for one or two others.)

On April 6th the Wicomico County Council has its quarterly night meeting, where we were urged by AFP member Matt Trenka to “pack the house” and take advantage of the public comments. When pressed, County Councilman John Cannon (who was in attendance) said he supported the idea and noted it’s one of the few items brought back to the Council’s attention after a decision was made – the quarterly meetings were a compromise measure. The current schedule was “terribly confusing,” said Cannon, and I imagine this may be a side issue for this year’s election.

Finally, the Tax Day TEA Party will be held April 15th (naturally.) That was the last subject we covered, so I’ll get to that shortly.

G.A. Harrison (of Delmarva Dealings fame) next spoke on the prospects of an elected school board. He noted that only 6 of Maryland’s 24 school districts (each county and Baltimore City) still had appointed boards of education, and only Caroline and Wicomico counties had that method here on the Eastern Shore. To get an elected board, we would have to have a non-binding referendum and there were two methods of achieving this:

  • through the approval of County Council, or;
  • via petition drive, with the signatures of 10% of county voters in the last election for Governor. For Wicomico County, this would mean we have to gather 2,821 valid signatures. The time is tight for this petition though: the language needs to be filed by May 1, with 1/3 of the signatures in by May 31 and the remainder by June 30.

Obviously the easier route is County Council, and recently the Republican Central Committee sent a letter to the County Council expressing our support (a letter I was pleased to sign.) Harrison noted that the Democrats may be on board as well, but for differing reasons – the teacher’s union would certainly try to influence the school board election.

State AFP head Dave Schwartz was also in attendance, and he spoke at some length about the recent fight against Obamacare. He told us that, “the American people are with us” and had it not been for all of our efforts this would have been done last June. After the 2008 elections the only question was when Democrats would pull the trigger, noted Schwartz. But Americans got to look at how things work in Washington, D.C. and they don’t like it – a CBS News poll released this week revealed 62% want Republicans to keep fighting this bill!

While the media wants to paint this as an “accomplishment,” continued Schwartz, it was only an accomplishment in the sense of getting a third mortgage when you had difficulty paying for the first two.

The next steps in our fight were:

  • To “win the aftermath” by explaining the bill’s pitfalls (of which there are many) better than the other side explains the supposed benefits. After all, $500 billion in new taxes, $500 billion in Medicare cuts, and a “fast-forward” to single-payer only benefit the government.
  • Signing the petition at (As I write this 343,138 have.)
  • Attend the Tax Day TEA Party here – 600 did last year and we want double this year!
  • Call and get the Health Care Freedom Act passed here in Maryland. The bill lost in committee 6-5 but we are asking two Democrats to reconsider.

Schwartz concluded by citing an AMA study which suggested that a high percentage of older doctors (over 50) will simply choose to retire as early as possible once Obamacare takes full effect, leaving fewer providers to care for an increasing number of insured patients who expect free medical service.

Two other quick pieces of information we received were that the Leadership Institute candidate school originally scheduled for Cambridge this weekend was cancelled, but there were still openings up in Dover. Also, the Worcester County AFP chapter asked for donations to purchase the use of a billboard along U.S. 50 to promote a message.

Finally, the Tax Day TEA Parties.

In Salisbury, the TEA Party goes on Thursday, April 15th from 3 to 7 p.m. About the only desired thing missing from the planning is a band, but everything else seems to be going as planned (aside from hoping for better weather, of course.) The venue remains the front lawn of the Government Office Building downtown on Division Street.

This year, Ocean City joins in on the fun! On Saturday, April 17 from noon to 3 p.m. theirs will be held in the plaza which hosts Trader Lee’s on the southwest corner of U.S. 50 and Maryland Route 611.

In either case, I encourage my readers to attend and they can register at this website. It looks like AFP has taken the lead in planning and promoting these events in Maryland, although each individual one is different.

Their next meeting will be April 28th at Brew River in Salisbury. Be there early to grab a seat because we had over 70 in a room set up originally for 50.

Will Mikulski vote to keep sex offenders on Viagra?

March 24, 2010 · Posted in Baltimore Examiner · Comments Off on Will Mikulski vote to keep sex offenders on Viagra? 

To those who thought the debate over Obamacare ended when the President signed the bill yesterday, think again. The Senate now takes up “fixes” to the plan demanded by House Democrats, and in the meantime the process was opened up to amendments from Senate Republicans.

Since the bill as a whole will only require a majority vote (as opposed to the sixty votes to maintain a filibuster), the GOP is pinning its hopes on enacting amendments which, if nothing else, would force Democrats to make embarrassing votes against them – if the amendments pass, the House would have to again approve changes to the bill through a conference.

(Continued on my page…)

The off-season just got 10 days shorter!!

March 24, 2010 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on The off-season just got 10 days shorter!! 

Great news on the Shorebirds front for baseball-starved fans like me! While the official press release is here, I can perhaps fill you in on some other things to expect.

This game will be a seven-inning exhibition game, and most likely Delmarva manager Ryan Minor will be trying to get everyone into the contest (with the possible exception of his Opening Day starting pitcher, although it depends on how pitching coach Troy Mattes handles side throwing.) It may even mean teammates facing each other as the game progresses.

The hope for this game is that it becomes an annual event, as Shorebirds General Manager Chris Bitters has worked for three seasons to get these teams together. It also provides a good dry run for the staff based on the crowd expected opening night, as concession stands will be open just as they would during a normal Shorebirds game.

Of course, the little bit of lagniappe is that the Salisbury University Seagulls are ranked among the top teams in Division III, and who knows? Maybe a select few will get a taste of what the pro ranks are like for their future reference.

Besides the game itself, though, my favorite part is getting to know the Shorebird players and having the chance to get pictures for Shorebird of the Week! (Yes, that’s coming April 8th to a website near you.) So I encourage you to come out and take advantage of the opportunity of getting a sneak peek at the 2010 Shorebirds!

Now, we just have to hope the weather cooperates.

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