Legislators Talk Bills With ALN – April 8th, 2019

April 8_2019 ALN Annual Meeting Newport This Week

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) held its annual meeting on April 8, with the emphasis on “livable.”

By ohtadmin | on April 11, 2019By James Merolla

Mayor Jamie Bova, City Councilors Justin McLaughlin and Angela McCalla, School Committee member Louisa Boatwright, Sen. Dawn Euer (D-District 13 Jamestown/ Newport), Rep. Lauren Carlson (D-District 75/Newport) and Rep. Marvin Abney (D-District 73) spoke of their priorities and what they might mean for the city.

Topics ranged from short-term rentals to long-term economic school solutions. Although there were few real answers, some bills are coming to the fore on Smith Hill that may make a difference locally.

Carlson said she was introducing a bill on April 9 to regulate Airbnb, the site that lists short-term rentals nationally.

“The first step in requiring registration of Airbnb municipalities is recognizing them,” she said. “Then, once they are delineated, you can regulate them, tackling issues like parking, zoning, legality, and then taxing them appropriately.”

Of the other major issues facing Newport, she mentioned bridge realignment and Rogers High.

Euer said she is working on legislation that would create regional school districts. “How do we bring Middletown to the table?” she asked.

Her bill would essentially create a county-based school district, but it needs to be fully worked out, citing difficulties that faced Chariho and Bristol-Warren.

She is revisiting the funding formula for schools and how to make sure it is equitable, “across the state.” She is also championing a student loan regulation bill, rolled out two weeks ago.

“It’s a huge financial crisis in our country,” she said. “Students are left with a bill that they have no hope in paying off. This is an effort to allow us to really regulate this at a state level.”

She is also investigating the possible remapping of state flood zones, affected by climate change.

“There’s only one bill that I would be concerned with and that’s the state budget,” Abney said. “If a bill is passed, and there’s a cost tied to it, it is my responsibility to make sure it fits into the tax breakdown of this [budget].

“Right now, we are trying to work our way out of a $150 million-plus deficit,” he said. “We can’t continue to borrow money into the future. I have to take a keen interest in what the taxpayers have to say. What do Rhode Islanders really want? What will you tolerate?”

Boatwright asked how the legislature can help raise money for school bonds with limited Newport options like property tax revenue.

Carlson said she once introduced legislation “to raise our hotel and our meal tax.”

“The City Council did this, I introduced it, but it never happened,” she said. “They don’t want to see a higher meal tax in Newport, as they do in Middletown. They want a steady meal tax. This is basically where our money is coming from. People who are paying the meals tax are probably not from Newport. We should pursue that aggressively. Let them pay $1 on a $100 meal. I don’t see a big problem with that.”

Euer said Jamestown considers its schools, “a community project, [but] in Newport not so much.” She added, “I do see our schools as a community project.”

“It’s all about leadership,” said Abney. “At the state level, all the way down to the superintendent. If you don’t have good leadership, every other year, someone new is going to change the direction of the education system. Massachusetts chose their direction years ago and stuck to it. You have to have a plan and follow it through for a number of years. You can’t turn it around in a year.”

Carlson is introducing a bill to expand training for planning and zoning boards. She said she had HDCS in the original draft of the bill, but took it out, calling it too much at this time.

“We need to standardize how Historic District Commissions operate so they can understand the consequences of their decisions,” she said.


SPECIAL 2018 Newport Elections Home Page

Newport City Council and School Committee Candidates Address the Tough Questions

September 27, 2018 – The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) announced that candidates for both the Newport City Council and School Committee have now posted their responses to numerous questions posed by the Alliance and the community in advance of the public forums that the Alliance will hold in October. *see dates/times/locations below

All twenty-one candidates in contested races have diligently taken time and effort to address how they would deal with many of these challenges.

Click the LINKS below to VIEW the survey responses:

  • View #1 – ALL of the Candidates responses to each question…
  • View #2 – INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE RESPONSES to each question
    • – see screenshot example

(School Committee Responses) 


(City Council Responses) 

“This is a pivotal election for Newport. Our newly elected city council and school committee will be dealing with critical issues affecting all of Newport, including the development of the north end, the bridge re-alignment, parking, taxes, short-term rentals, etc.,” said John Hirschboeck, co-president of the Alliance.

“Likewise, the new school committee must contend with the overcrowding at Pell, the repairs or replacement of Rogers, academic performance, finances, and other critical issues.”

In addition to reviewing the written responses, citizens are encouraged to attend the three public forums in October where the candidates will address additional questions posed by ALN in person.


School Committee Candidates

  • Tuesday, October 16 |  6-7: 30 pm
  • Pell School Auditorium | 35 Dexter St, Newport, RI 02840

At-Large City Council Candidates

  • Thursday, October 18 | 6-7: 30 pm
  • Newport City Hall | 43 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840

1st and 2nd Ward City Council Candidates

  • Tuesday, October 23 | 6-7:30 pm
  • Newport City Hall | 43 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840

The non-partisan Alliance has been holding election year forums since 2010 to assist Newporters in learning more about the candidates and to help make informed decisions for whom to vote.

Contact:  John Hirschboeck, Office of the President | Alliance for a Livable Newport

ALN Public Forum – Newport Utilities Department – Monday, February 27, at 5:30 Edward King House

DATE: Monday, February 27
TIME: 5:30pm 
LOCATION: Edward King House, Ballroom – 35 King St, Newport, RI 02840

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) will be holding its first Public Forum of the year featuring Julia Forgue, Director of the Newport Utilities Department, and her staff will talk about their department’s responsibilities and operations.

The Department of Utilities is comprised of two divisions, the Water Division and the Water Pollution Control Divisionhttp://www.cityofnewport.com/departments/utilities

The Water Division operates and manages the source water reservoirs, treatment plants, storage tanks and distribution system. The City’s water distribution system also services the Town of Middletown and a small portion of the Town of Portsmouth. We also sell water wholesale to the Portsmouth Water and Fire District and Naval Station Newport.

The Water Division is responsible for providing drinking water that meets standards established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). The Water Division is licensed by the RIDOH as a Public Water Supplier, License # 1592010. The Water Division is also required to report to the Rhode Island Water Resources Board.

The Water Pollution Control Division is responsible for providing wastewater treatment for the residents of Newport. In addition we provide wastewater treatment on a wholesale basis to the Town of Middletown and Naval Station Newport. The Water Pollution Control Division also manages the storm drainage system within the City.

All ALN Forums are videotaped and appear on the ALN website athttp://newportalliance.org//videos/ and on COX TV, Channel 17.

Public Workshop: Protecting Newport Historic and Cultural Assets from Flooding Caused by Sea Level Rise

The public is invited to participate in a community workshop on flood protection for historic and culturally valuable properties on Newport’s coast. The workshop is scheduled for THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016, 3-7 P.M., at Emmanuel Church, 42 Dearborn St., Newport, RI 02840.

NOTE: The public is welcome for the whole event; a general overview of the project will be given at 5 p.m. to ensure attendees arriving later in the day have ample opportunity to gain information. RSVP if attending by July 11 to ensure adequate refreshments.

The workshop follows the April 2016 Keeping History Above Water Conference in Newport, which explored historic preservation efforts regarding flooding from sea level rise a key impact of climate change. Newport hosts a broad array of historical and cultural assets, including registered historic buildings, and rising water and increased storminess is expected to threaten these over time. The University of Rhode Island (URI) Coastal Resources Center (CRC) and Rhode Island Sea Grant are facilitating the meeting for several community groups interested in continuing the conference dialogue. The event is also possible due to generous support from the Prince Charitable Trusts.

Science indicates that Rhode Island is more likely than many other coastal states to experience flooding over time from sea level rise, said Dawn Kotowicz, a coastal manager for CRC and extension agent for Rhode Island Sea Grant. Coastal development, including the historic properties and cultural assets that Newport values, is at risk, so collaborating on practical solutions is critical.

CRC and Rhode Island Sea Grant, at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, provide Rhode Island and beyond with a variety of community-based coastal management and outreach services and programs.

For more information about the workshop, please contact Dawn Kotowicz at (401) 874-6152. Please RSVP. For media inquiries, contact Sue Kennedy at (401) 874-6107 orskennedy@crc.uri.edu.



Amy Hoag, Newport Resident, expresses her concerns with proposed parking changes.

Proposed_Parking_Changes_Map copy  (click to download)

Docket Action Item #5245:14  (click to download)

The city will hold a public parking workshop on Thursday, March 20th at 6:30 pm in the community room at the police station to review the proposed sticker parking changes.  If you are not able to attend but would like to make comment, please email the city councilors whose contact information is listed below.

Last week at the city council meeting, the council received a report recommending expanding the Residential Parking Program (sticker parking) to include high density areas, areas with little to no off-street parking, and residential areas in mixed use or near major tourist sections of Newport; this change would eliminate the petition process for the proposed streets.  The streets proposed for inclusion in the Residential Parking Program include:

All roads west of Broadway up to A-1 Pizza and west to Van Zandt Ave. Southern end is Farewell Street and Thames down to Bucci’s liquor.

Everything north of Touro street between Kay and Broadway all the way up to Rhode Island Ave.

Warner, Broadway, and Marcus Wheatland are not restricted.

This directly impacts our neighborhood and has been a topic of discussion in our meetings regularly. Congdon Ave petitioned for and received sticker parking last year and neighboring streets have shown an interest in doing so. Rather than having a domino effect and dealing with petitions on a street by street basis, the report recommends extending the residential parking program (sticker parking) to our neighborhood as parking has become difficult for residents with the influx of traffic to the Broadway businesses.


The report  also recommends metered parking on Broadway from Washington Square to the police station.  One question that has been posed to me directly is whether or not meters should go further north and stop at Dunkin Donuts.

Please do take the time to provide your thoughts and comments either directly to our city councilors, through the workshop or through OBNA.

Please see attached for the report and a map.

Thanks, Amy




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Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island
Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




When: WEDNESDAY, March 5, 2014 – 6:00PM – 7:30PM


Where: Assembly Room of the Newport Police Station – 120 Broadway, Newport RI 02840




Public Forum


Citizens may address the Commission on all matters pertaining to the Charter Review. The Charter Review Commission requests the time of comments for each person be limited to five minutes. Questions and discussion may extend the time limit at the discretion of the Commission.


Of particular interest to the Charter Review Commission are the following issues:


  • The way we elect our mayor
  • Whether or not to eliminate the wards and have all City Councilors elected at large
  • Term limits and staggered terms for the School Committee and City Council
  • Election vs. appointment of the School Committee
  • The roles and responsibilities of the Mayor and City Manager
  • How Boards and Commission function, among other operating functions of City government.


If time allows, the Commission will proceed with items to do with a regularly scheduled business meeting.


  • Roll call
  • Determination of quorum
  • Approval of the minutes from the January 29, February 5 and February 19 meetings


NEW Business


  • Format for presentation of Charter changes to the Newport City Council
  • Assignment of Charter section changes to Commission members for presentation to City Council


A copy of the current City Charter is available for review in the City Clerk’s Office, or may be viewed at www.cityofnewport.com. Click on Codified Ordinances.


For more information on the public hearing, contact: newportcharterreview@cityofnewport.com


Newport Charter Review Commission – Isabel Griffith, Chair








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Can Culture Have Role in Newport City Charter?

By Tom Walsh  (read more) Newport This Week

Amid a polite but intensive discussion on Feb. 5 about how the city manager, mayor and the rest of the City Council should manage themselves in conducting public business, there was this comment from Isabel Griffith, the Charter Review Commission’s chairperson:

“The Council works the way it does now not because of language in the charter but from the culture of the council,” she said. “The way they do things is something that has been passed down.” The city of Newport, she said, has a culture all its own.

Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island
Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The question is this: Can the nine members of the Charter Review Commission figure out a way to revise the city charter without stepping on the city’s historic culture?

This ticklish problem hovered over the commission’s discussion of how—or whether—to revise the charter to better address the way the city manager, the mayor (who is actually the chairman of the City Council) and the other six councilors communicate with and among themselves and the public.

Among various definitions, Webster defines “culture” as something “that depends upon man’s capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.”

All of this became important to the review commission last week as it considered apparent management shortcomings in the way council members, including the mayor and City Manager Jane Howington, communicate on city business. Howington told the panel that councilors often go straight to city department heads with requests and directives.

“It’s like having seven bosses,” she said. There was no disagreement that such a system would appear to be inefficient and troubling to manage.

However, Mayor Henry F. Winthrop said there is a certain political reality to the way things work. “If you need something done, you call your city councilor,” he said. “That’s not going to go away. We’re driven by the need to respond to citizens’ concerns.” But he could also see the management problems that arise. “When a council member tells department staff to do something, they drop everything without regard to directions they may have from the city manager,” Winthrop said.

Commission member Terry Nathan said flatly, “There’s a management problem here that relates to the ability of the city manager to function as the city’s chief operating officer.” He added, “It’s okay to talk to everyone but you have to have a way to act and get things done.”

While emphasizing that “I don’t want to suggest that people can’t talk to other people,” Howington also declared that “making us more effective is the role of the council.”

In an interview this week, Griffith, the Charter Review Commission chairperson, said the charter is a document that is “specific but also very broad. You can’t use the city charter to change peoples’ minds. It’s not designed to make people do what they don’t want to do.”

The charter, she said, can specify such things as how a mayor is elected, terms of office, and years when elections take place. “But you can’t use the charter to change peoples’ behavior.” She said a charter cannot create commissions. “That’s a policy matter. The council does that.” She also agreed that the commission may be limited in defining how people in government communicate, as it could violate the constitutional right to freedom of speech. “You just can’t do that,” she said.

Griffith said she likes Newport’s form of government the way it is. As for the city’s “culture,” she said, “People don’t like surprises. That’s part of the culture.” As an example, she cited the furor over changes that were made to Queen Anne’s Square. “Some people have still not forgiven Newport government for that,” she said.

“It’s about tradeoffs,” Griffith continued. “I like being governed by a committee rather than by one or two people who get to say what’s happening all by themselves. I’ll sacrifice efficiency for the comfort we have in the way things are done here.”

Last week, Griffith’s view of things prevailed in a 4-2 straw vote on a motion “not to change the duties of the mayor” as currently provided by charter. Nathan and William Kimes voted against the motion. Griffith, Mary Ann Marin, David Martland and Charles Y. Duncan supported it. Sarah Atkins and Lauren Carson abstained.

“Our members are all very thoughtful and they have their own ideas,” Griffith said. “We are not in consensus right now.”


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You are Invited! Alliance for a Livable Newport LEARN ALL ABOUT PLANS FOR NEWPORT’S 375th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS



You are Invited!

Alliance for a Livable Newport



The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) will be holding a free public forum at the Newport Public Library on January 23 to unveil a host of planned activities recognizing this year’s 375th Anniversary of the founding of Newport.

Founded in 1639 by William Brenton, Henry Bull, Jeremy Clark, John Clarke, William Coddington, John Coggeshall, Nicholas Easton, and Thomas Hazard, Newport became the first capital of the State of Rhode Island.

Co-chairs of the 375th Anniversary Celebration Committee, former mayors Steve Waluk and co-chair John Trifero, will be joined by members of Newport’s 375th committee who will outline the City’s plans for public celebrations, family-friendly activities, lectures and educational programs throughout 2014.

A “Q & A” will follow the presentation during which additional ideas can be discussed.



For further information, contact: 
John Hirschboeck, ALN Office of the President  info@newportalliance.org/  or Call 401-619-0127

Did you know that all ALN Public Forums are video taped and available publicly for viewing at any time? <click here to view the archive>

Portrait of a Clergy (thought to be John Clarke), 1659. By Guilliam de Ville. Redwood Library and Athenaeum.

Please join us!




JANUARY 23, 2014

TIME: 6-7:30pm


Newport Public Library

Program Room

300 Spring Street

Newport, RI 02840

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Please help us to defray the costs of these important community forums with a tax deductible donation today!

City of Newport Charter Review – what you should know and do now!

The Charter of the City of Newport, Rhode Island, was approved by the voters on November 4, 1952.

Chapter III (Elections) became effective on such date. All other provisions became effective on November 1, 1953. Years appearing in parentheses indicate that the section was enacted, amended or repealed in the year indicated.

Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island
Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The final reports of last two Charter Reviews were in 2002 and 2008.

Section 10-10. Charter Review

The Council shall provide for periodic review of this charter by appointing a Charter Review Commission no more than 10 years from the date of appointment of the most recent Charter Review Commission.


Read the City Charter.  <click here>

In addition to the link on the ALN website

It can be found on Charter Review Commission website – click on Boards and Commission on the upper left of the city’s home page or on Codified Ordinances just below that.

Meetings, agendas and minutes are posted on the Charter Commission website; meetings are also posted on the city calendar.  Comments at those meetings about the City Charter from members of the public are encouraged



Wednesday, November 6, 2013 Newport Public Library 5:30pm

Present: Sarah Atkins, Charles Y. Duncan, Isabel Griffith,William Kimes, Mary Ann Marin, and David P. Martland

Absent: Lauren Carson, Patrick K. Kelley and Terry Nathan

There being a quorum present the meeting was opened. Proceedings

Members of the Charter Review Commission (CRC) were sworn in by Kathleen M. Silvia, City Clerk.

The Members conveyed the first meeting of the CRC pursuant to the Resolution of the City Council No. 2013-106 dated June 26, 2013. Mayor Henry F. Winthrop addressed the CRC and suggested that members engage a discussion of any and all items within their purview and not shy away of “hot button” issues. The Mayor also indicated that the Resolution of the City Council would be amended to require the CRC to provide its recommendations to the City Council in April rather than February.

Election of Officers: Upon motion made and seconded, the CRM elected Isabel Griffin as Chair, Mary Ann Marin as Vice-Chair, and David P. Martland as Secretary.

The members determined that the CRC should meet twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month with the exception of January when the CRC would meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday. Upon motion made and seconded it was voted unanimously that the CRC would hold meetings on November 20th, December 4th, December 18th, January 8th, January 22nd, February 5th, February 19th, March 5th, and March 19th, convening at 5:30pm and allow for public input at the beginning of each meeting limiting each speaker to 3 minutes. The Chair indicated she would seek to obtain permission to hold the proposed meetings at the Newport Public Library.

The members determined that they would review the City Charter prior to the November 20th meeting, at which point members would select certain chapters for further review and study and seek to develop a list of topics to discuss. At the suggestion of CRC member William Kimes, Chair advised she would request that the CRC members be provided with a copy of the Model City Charter drafted by the National Civic League.

Upon motion made and seconded it was voted to adjourn. Submitted by Secretary, David P. Martland


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Isabel Griffith featured on the front page of The Newport Daily News 11/25/2013

ISLAND PEOPLE – A wealth of experience 


Newport Charter review chairwoman comes with a wide-ranging resume

By Sean Flynn – Staff writer http://newportdailynews.com 

NEWPORT — Isabel Griffith likes going to Newport City Council meetings, which are a far cry from some of the other settings in her life.

Take for example the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., where she was associate head of school and academic dean for several years. The town was also the home of the Middleburg Hounds, who kept up the tradition of fox-hunting with their Middleburg Hunt.

“The girls would sometimes fox hunt, usually two or three of our best riders who were very brave,” Griffith said about her former students. “When they missed classes because of a fox hunt, it would drive the faculty nuts. But sometimes I would be with the girls.”

Griffith, 75, has found enjoyment in many endeavors in her life, but she has a soft spot for private boarding schools for girls at the highschool level, where she has lived and worked.

“Schools with female faculty and staff made a difference in my life,” she said. “Some of the things I did, I never would have thought of doing if I didn’t have that experience. Single- sex education is empowering for women when all the leadership roles are filled by women.”

Since moving to Newport 16 years ago, Griffith has drawn from her leadership experience to fill some key roles in the community. Recently, she took on the chairmanship of the city’s Charter Review Commission, which will be considering potential changes to city government that are sure to be controversial. Recent sessions — in which the possibilities of having a popularly elected mayor or doing away with city wards were discussed — already are generating comment in the community.

As a former president of the Point Association and the Alliance for a Livable Newport, in which she is still an officer, Griffith is familiar with controversy. She was at the helm of the association when the state Department of Transportation’s plan to run a downtown access road along the train tracks next to the Point caused a firestorm in the neighborhood and led to many meetings.

Griffith was born and bred in Dallas, where New England “Yankees” are considered a foreign and enemy tribe.

“I was not a happy Texan, but I never thought I’d move to New England,” she said. “In Texas, living with Yankees is unthinkable.”

For her, that outlook has flipped. Isabel Griffith, former president of the Alliance for a Livable Newport

“I’ve been a very happy New Englander, much happier than I was as a Texan,” Griffith said. “It’s been a great life for me here. I can’t imagine anyone moving from New England to Texas and liking it.”

Griffith graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and taught small children for a year afterward.

“I was terrible at it,” she said. “My timing was all wrong.”

Returning to SMU, she earned a master of science degree in biology and taught high school biology, chemistry and physics, but mostly biology. She married a lawyer in 1965 and moved to a small farm in Middleburg, where he practiced law and she taught full time.

“He enjoyed going to race tracks and one day he brought home a horse,” Griffith said. “I began looking after the horse and that’s how it all started — a period of raising and racing horses.”

They moved to a larger farm and eventually had nine horses, six dogs and “about the same number of cats.” There was a constant turnover with the horses.

“I ran the farm and researched the horses,” Griffith said. “We bought one to three yearlings a year and raised them to the age of 2 with a trainer at the farm.”

The horses then were sent to racing school in Maryland. Griffith and her husband raced the horses in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, besides Maryland.

“We actually made money in the racing business,” she said.

During that time, Griffith taught at the Madeira School, a girls boarding school in McLean, Va., and began working on her doctorate degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she also taught.

After 15 years of marriage, she and her husband separated and she moved onto the Foxcroft School campus where she had been teaching most recently.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being married, and my husband and I remained friends afterwards,” she said. “I would recommend the experience to anyone.”

But she had places to go.

Griffith moved in 1983 to Chicago, where she was principal of the Latin School of Chicago, a large independent co-educational school.

“It seems I never stayed at one job too long,” she said. “If I looked at my resume as an employer, I would say, ‘It doesn’t look like she develops much loyalty.’ After three years in Chicago, I got itchy feet.”

The next stop was Princeton, N.J., where she worked as an educational consultant for 11 years for Independent Educational Services Inc., placing school administrators and teachers.

“It was a long-term assignment for me,” Griffith said. “I lived right across from the university where I’d spend time at concerts, lectures and other events. I thoroughly enjoyed it there, a small walkable town with an easy connection to New York City.” Changes came though, and she moved to Washington, D.C., for a year. The move to Newport took place after she was hired by Educational Directions Inc., in Portsmouth, where she was a an educational hiring consultant for private schools. She helped find academic deans, administrators and principals for lower and middle schools.

“It involved a lot of travel,” she said. “I’ve been lost in all the major cities of the U.S. For me, trips were measured by the number of plane rides. A five-plane trip was really pushing it. Travel became just awful for me.”

Her home, a 1728 Colonial house on Walnut Street, became her refuge.

“I love my garden, although it gets very jungle- y,” she said. “It’s not a tidy New England garden.”

She retired six years ago. Not owning a TV or a cell phone, she now finds enjoyment in reading and attending City Council, planning and zoning board and neighborhood meetings.

“The people are bright and dedicated; they think about stuff,” Griffith said with a smile. “I find it so interesting to be a part of things that are important, at least at some level.”


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