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Letters to the Editor for April 5, 2013


Dalton’s experience makes him ideal for OTEC board

I endorse Doug Dalton for the vacancy on the OTEC board of directors. We are very fortunate to have an electrical cooperative in Union, Baker, Grant and Harney counties, keeping resources created in Oregon administered by citizens of Oregon, and not some multi-state or multi-national company. Our cooperative is a success in large part because of the determination, hard work and knowledge of the board of directors.

OTEC board members must be knowledgeable, experienced and competent. Add to that integrity and hard work and you have Doug Dalton. He has previous experience as chief financial officer, controller in the utility industry. That experience cannot be understated. His understanding and experience with utility companies gives him an edge as it eliminates the learning curve of any new board member. It is that type of experience that an OTEC director needs to be effective from the beginning.

I have worked with Doug in his role as chief financial officer of the Baker 5J School District. He was a sound money manager. When Doug told us what we could expect fiscally, we as a board were able to plan effectively because he was always so accurate in his predictions. When faced with a drastic and sudden shortfall in district revenues attributed to the recession, Doug led a fiscal restructuring of the district that had minimal impact on student learning time and class size. He will bring that financial knowledge along with his experience in the utility industry to the OTEC board to benefit all the members.

Doug has always exhibited the utmost integrity, honesty and directness. I trusted his advice completely. As the former school board chairman my experience with Doug was that he was never one to “beat around the bush.” He had the enviable ability to see through multiple scenarios and provide appropriate analysis. In doing so he was direct, gave us the facts, laid out our options and gave his recommendation — which always seemed to be the best choice.

I urge all OTEC members to vote for Doug Dalton for the Baker County board seat.

Damien Yervasi

Baker City

Government wants more power over citizens

In a letter a while back I wrote about the difference between being a citizen or a subject. It’s even closer today both physically and spiritually. The government wants more power over us and the atheists want to take God from us. Oops! I almost forgot, according to them there is no God. Explain to me then why are they in fear of any symbol of Him? Thank God there’s more now waking up to this danger. God’s real, folks, and He’s not going away.

Let me tell you my story, my testimony, my witness to a true and real God. But first I want to give acknowledgement to six men who give up their time to us ex-G.I.’s to drive us from Baker to Boise five days a week in all kinds of weather to our VA appointment. I rode with them 40 times in a row and still go from time to time. These men are unsung heroes but should be noted and thanked for their service. Thank you, Bob, Karl, Alan and Alan, Phil and John.

There’s not enough space to explain my full testimony so I may write more than one letter on it. Grew up in California, went from building hot rods to motorcycle groups. Not knowing then but knowing now, God already had His hand on me. He kept me from many things that would lead to prison or worse. Then He put me into the service for the next four years. Still not listening, ended up in the USAF hospital for three months in terrible pain, about to lose my right leg. Walk out three months later, I know now because of God’s power, right leg healed. Back in California, married with kids, back into motorcycles when a fellow I knew came all the way from Colorado, walks into my house, sticks his finger in my face, tells me God has sent him to me God wants. I know this may, and thought maybe I should pay attention. Will fill in blanks next.

Richard Fox

Baker City

Double standard on school district budget issues

Although I saw Mr. Munn’s letter to the editor from last week as a bit offensive, I have to say that it nonetheless provided me with some comic relief. Here’s why:

It appears that Mr. Munn attempted to submit a complaint anonymously, assuming that the victim of his complaint would never know who filed it. Unbeknownst to him, the response is cc’d to the petitioner, and then Mrs. McQuisten obviously was able to see who had done it. When Mrs. McQuisten’s  letter to the editor named him, it must of have been embarrassing for him.

Secondly, Mr. Munn asserts that the $10,000 paid for the recall effort was an unjust victimization of our children, but let’s put things into perspective. The district has a multi-million dollar budget. I find it ironic that they are able to budget tens of thousands of dollars for administrative raises to salaries that are already over $100,000 annually, but somehow rationalize that the $10,000 to pay for the recall effort was somehow unfair. In fact, they even threatened to support a recall effort against Director Knight if he did not either rescind his remarks or resign. So essentially, what Mr. Munn is saying is that it is okay for the district to support a recall effort against Mr. Knight and victimize our children (by way of $10,000), but a citizen who  believes the board overstepped its bounds is not allowed to do the same. It seems to be a huge double standard. I’m curious as to whether Mr. Munn would have filed a complaint against the board majority if they would have followed through with their threat.

Mr. Munn’s letter came across to me as angry, and quite frankly, desperate of saving face. I’ve honestly heard better rhetoric coming from the “Dear Leader” in Pyongyang recently. My advice to him would be simple: just own it. You got caught!

Jason Smith

Baker City

 

The difference between driving past, or through


Baker County has never been what you’d call a bustling place, but today it’s a trifle lonelier than usual, even though there are no fewer people about.

The recent closure of the only gas station in Durkee seems to me a minor milestone in a transition that started more than 40 years ago, when the freeway began to replace old Highway 30.

The major change, of course, happened as soon as the comparatively straight, four-lane swath of I-84 (originally, I-80) supplanted the ostensibly outdated two-lane.

Baker County became a place to drive past rather than a place to drive through, which are altogether different propositions.

 

Police mugshots are public records


Depending as we do on access to public information, we tend to bristle when anyone tries to restrict such access.

And so we oppose a bill, pending in the Oregon Legislature, which would make it more difficult for the public — and, potentially, the media — to get mugshots of criminal defendants from county jails.

House Bill 3467, which is sponsored by two Democratic representatives from Portland, Mitch Greenlick and Jennifer Williamson, has one strike against it from the start.

It wasn’t written by either of those lawmakers, but rather by Ryan Anfuso, a criminal defense attorney from Portland. We’ve nothing against defense lawyers, but in defending their clients they’re often more inclined to conceal information from the public rather than make it readily available.

The claimed purpose of HB 3467 isn’t so terrible. Anfuso said his goal is to thwart websites which use software to automatically search the Internet for mugshots, then post the photos online and, in some cases, charge people a fee if they want to have the mugshot removed.

That’s not an especially compelling use of public information.

But that’s also not the point.

Mugshots are public records, and the government should be striving to make such records more readily available, not less.

Which is where HB 3467 fails miserably.

The bill not only would prohibit police agencies from posting mugshots online, it would require that anyone who wants a copy of a mugshot to go to the agency, submit a written request, and then pay a fee (no amount is listed in the bill).

This is an awfully heavy-handed way to deal with those predatory websites that Anfuso is worried about.

And although Williamson said she is open to changing the proposed bill to make exceptions for the news media, that wouldn’t alleviate our concerns.

Mugshots are public records. That a handful of website operators take advantage of that in no way justifies punishing the vast majority of the public that merely wants access to information to which each of us is legally entitled. 

 

Letters to the Editor for April 3, 2013


Chase has the leadership experience for OTEC board

 I’m asking all OTECC members to join me in electing Charlene Chase to fill Board Position 9. We need another woman to replace the remarkable OTECC founder, Peggi Timm.

We are fortunate to have three good candidates for the position, but I’m supporting Charlene Chase as the candidate most deeply grounded in consumer and community values, as evidenced by her work as a CASA advocate and as chair of two local school boards. Charlene has the leadership experience, the time, and the dedication we need to energetically represent us, as demonstrated by her initiative and follow-through to become a petition candidate, and her lifelong record of active public service.

Donna Landon

Baker City

Jobless ‘figures’ influenced election in Obama’s favor

Six weeks before the last election we learned that the unemployment rate had dropped  by two-tenths of one percent.  The timing was designed to influence the election. Many thoughtful persons thought that the figures were contrived due to the nearness of the election, but this did not deter the Obama boosters for one moment. They had Obama on TV many times daily and every single day for the six weeks until election day. Even when the unemployment figures worsened to just one-tenth of one percent for the last week, he kept at it. His message was always the same: “The unemployment figures were the best since he had been elected.” This statement was a monstrous exaggeration of the facts. There was virtually no improvement in the unemployment rate. It was still 8 percent minus that pitifully tiny fraction.

Opponents missed a golden opportunity. They should have had as many people as they could afford on TV every day explaining that Obama’s proclaimed “improvement” was so tiny that it was very close to zero.

Experienced propagandists believe that you can make people believe anything if you repeat it often enough. I believe this is what took place last November and it influenced the election a good deal.

Carl Kostol

Baker City

OTEC committee member backs Daugherty for board

I’ve served with Nelson Clarke and Lynne Burroughs on the OTEC board nominating committee for the last two years. They honored me by asking me to chair, and in the course of this service I’ve gained a deep understanding of the enormous burden that is held by an OTEC board member. They work such long hours on difficult issues that might be considered largely uninteresting to many of us. Truly, we should heartily thank every one of the OTEC board members for their service to us! Successful board members have a long history of service on other board and civic organizations, and have held leadership roles with distinction, have lengthy and deep ties to this community, and are accessible to community members. 

Randy Daugherty exemplifies these qualities, and is, in my opinion, the best board candidate. He successfully operates a century old family business, has a strong education in business/accounting. He’s served with distinction as a leader on the Baker City Council as well as the tough city budget board and the 5J facility committee among countless other civic positions. A Baker City native, he’s available to all of us every day. Sitting at his office with the big window looking over Washington Street, he just couldn’t be more accessible.

I would like to take the opportunity to clarify the committee’s nominating process.  Randy Daugherty applied in a timely manner for the board position. He was our committee’s sole nominee, in addition to our beloved incumbent Peggi Timm. Mr. Doug Dalton did not apply until the last minute after learning that Ms. Timm was about to resign. The committee found him to be a viable candidate and added his name to the slate. I’ve learned that Mr. Dalton’s nomination has been described as being “hand selected by the OTEC Nominating Committee.” That is simply not true. I want the record to be clear that Mr. Dalton was never the Committee’s sole candidate.

Barbara Sidway

Baker City

 

On cougars, bears: Let locals choose


Attempts have been made to change, or even eliminate, Oregon’s ban on using dogs to hunt cougars and bears, and using bait to attract bears, since voters approved Measure 18 in 1994.

The latest proposal strikes us as a reasonable compromise between the current situation and an outright reversal of those restrictions.

It’s House Bill 2624. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee had a public hearing on the bill Tuesday.

We like the legislation because it would give voters a chance to decide whether the limits on cougar and bear hunting should continue.

But here’s the best part of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Brian Clem, a Democrat from Salem: It would let voters in each of the state’s 36 counties decide how to manage cougar and bear hunting in their countioes.

Measure 18, by contrast, was a statewide vote.

Although 52 percent of voters were in favor of the hunting restrictions, the measure was opposed by a majority of voters in most counties. In Baker County, 72 percent of voters cast a “no” vote on the measure.

Measure 18, then, was a classic example of how voters in the state’s most populous county — Multnomah, which includes Portland — can, in effect, overrule their fellow Oregonians.

That’s always a possibility in our electoral system, of course, and we’re not suggesting it should be changed.

But neither is it undemocratic to have elections at the county level.

We don’t, after all, let voters in Portland or Eugene or Astoria decide who serves on the Baker School Board or the Baker City Council.

Managing cougars and bears isn’t quite equivalent — like other game animals, they are legally considered the property of the state, which is to say all Oregonians.

Except the effects cougars and bears can have hardly apply equally across the state.

That Oregon’s cougar population has doubled since voters approved Measure 18 — from about 3,000 to 6,000 — is of little consequence to urbanites.

But for ranchers, such a significant increase in the populations of predators such as cougars and bears can directly, and negatively, affect their business.

Fortunately, Oregon is not at a crossroads where we must choose either to slaughter our bears and cougars or spare them.

Bears were plentiful even before Measure 18, and cougar populations were already rising — though the rate increased sharply after 1994.

HB 2624 would in no way imperil either species.

Although we’re confident that voters in many counties, including Baker, would choose to overturn Measure 18, the current annual limits would remain on the number of cougars that can be killed in the six regions of the state (the annual quota for the Blue Mountains is 245 cougars, and in 2012 a total of 161 cougars were killed: 99 by hunters, 62 for damage complaints or other causes).

The bottom line is that HB 2624 would give residents across Oregon a voice in an important local issue, without threatening the state’s thriving cougar and bear populations.

 

Sequester gets even sillier


We thought the nonsense related to the federal budget cuts known as the sequester had reached its apex with the pulling of college tuition assistance for about 201,000 National Guard soldiers (a blunder which Congress, to its credit, fixed last week).

Well, no.

The latest lunacy is that the feds, no longer content to close national parks and deprive children of vaccinations, are in effect calling for counties, including Baker County, to bail them out.

The target is the federal program officially known as Secure Rural Schools, but more commonly referred to as county payments.

The program, which dates back more than a decade, sends hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the coffers in Washington, D.C., to counties with public lands — and in particular forested land — within their borders.

The basic idea is to make up for some of the money these counties used to receive from the sale of timber logged on federal forests. That source of revenue has plummeted since the early 1990s, when the amount of logging on federal land dropped dramatically.

The federal government wants counties to repay $17.9 million. Of that, $3.6 would come from Oregon counties, and an estimated $40,000 from Baker County.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican from Washington state, called the idea an “obvious attempt” to make the sequester seem to the public as harmful as possible.

We don’t go in much for conspiracy theories, but the congressman’s allegation is hardly farfetched.

Notwithstanding the heavy-handed nature of the government’s gesture, asking counties to repay the money doesn’t make sense in relation to the sequester. That’s because the payments are based on 2012 revenues, which supposedly makes them exempt to the across-the-board cuts that started in early March after President Obama and Congress failed to make a deal on the budget.

(“Cuts” in this case being something of a misnomer, by the way, since in many cases — defense being one major exception — they don’t mean the government is spending less money than last year, but rather increasing spending by a smaller amount than was planned.)

Many other lawmakers have joined Hastings in criticizing federal officials for trying to pilfer county coffers, among them Oregon’s senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Greg Walden, whose district includes Baker County.

Given the widespread disgust among legislators, we think it’s likely that counties, in the end, will still get the money.

Even so, this episode will forever remain an appalling example of how the federal government, though its expertise in spending tax dollars is formidable indeed, seems incapable of tempering its profligacy with anything resembling sober thought.

There’s nothing reasonable about implying, as the feds have done in this matter, that somehow Baker County is partially responsible for the budget woes in Washington, D.C.

 

Letters to the Editor for April 1, 2013


Rebuild our land and economy 

I read the story about Sen. Ron Wyden in the March 22 issue. Sen. Wyden stated some things that seem to go against the actions he normally takes when voting on issues concerning natural resources. He described it as: “pursuing this on a dual track: boosting timber cuts and providing a safety net that provides for schools, roads and police in resource dependent communities, and then our bipartisan coalition will also support reauthorizing the (Secure Rural Schools) payment program.”

On the other hand, in February Wyden introduced three bills that will add thousands of acres to wilderness areas and national monuments and a lot of miles of Oregon rivers to the wild and scenic rivers system. Wyden said: “Each of these parts of the bill aim to protect natural treasures in Oregon, preserve them for use and enjoyment and build upon the economic opportunities they provide for their local communities.”

As chairman of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, he also warned that returning to the logging practices of the 1980s boom to replace county payments is not a viable solution because: “Experts tell us it is not possible to cut enough trees to produce historic levels of funding in rural counties and comply with the multiple uses of our federal forests that our communities want and meet our bedrock environmental laws.”

I say that may be true about “not possible to cut enough trees,” especially if you continue to introduce legislation that keeps removing more land from natural resource production, which includes mining. Even now, since there has been years of devastation to these industries, there may not be enough trained loggers or miners around, since they also had to move from the area to find other jobs.

Wyden’s proposals are more like finishing off already struggling economically deprived communities. The tourist and recreationist opportunities cannot compete with jobs that support families from resource production. Wilderness is supposed to be lands that do not have evidence of man. Therefore, trading with private landowners to remove them from access to the water for cattle and farming, or limiting that access so that recreationists can float by is ridiculous and does more harm to the economies of the communities.

As fuel loads increase from overgrown forests that are now considered wilderness, should there be a fire (from natural causes) it will burn hotter and more complete. This has been known to sterilize the land, such that it takes even longer to come back. There will be no pristine beauty or treasure afterwards, because those fires are unstoppable.

We have more trees growing now than in the early years. It is because there was a point when we understood we needed to plant more trees than we harvest. In the 1980s it was standard practice to plant seven trees for every tree cut; some places did more.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that Secure Rural Schools was supposed to be temporary, to provide rural counties with time to rebuild their economies. I think it is misunderstood that everything we have comes from the earth: It has to be grown or mined, there is no other source. The more land you take out of production and remove evidence of man from, the more you take out of the economy and risk a devastating destruction of the land, because man is not there to tend the land and take from it the resources we need.

So how does a community rebuild its economy? The news article said that Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell “identified up to 83 million acres in need of treatment... 12.5 million acres require treatment using large machinery.”

Well at least we have a start of recognition for part of the problem. There are less and less people able to produce because of too high restrictions on land use, and our government spends way too much on pet projects that frankly do not create family wage jobs. Maybe some are starting to see the light.

Guy Michael is a Baker County miner.

 

Chase has a strong commitment to OTEC

My husband and I are new Baker City residents. Many things brought us to this area — a thriving arts community, beautiful country, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. We also found out pretty quickly how wonderful the people of Baker City are. And one of the people we’ve been fortunate to meet is Charlene Chase, who is now running for the vacant spot on the OTEC board.

Charlene Chase’s background as an educator, principal and school board member show that she has the background to qualify her for this position. Her community involvement, including being a CASA volunteer, shows that she has a genuine interest in the quality of life in our area.

One of the reasons Charlene Chase has said made her want to run for a position on the OTEC board is that she wants to preserve the original, strong commitment to have OTEC be a true cooperative — a utility that well serves all its members. Having such a utility is just one more reason my husband and I are so pleased to now live here. And that is why we are voting for Charlene Chase for the OTEC board.

Nancy Coffelt

Baker City 

 

March, the homeliest month, finally nears its end


March, in my view, is the least attractive month.

“Ugly” is a more direct description, of course, and nicely pithy, but I don’t believe it to be a fair description of March or, indeed, of any month.

Each of the 12 has its charms, its moments of beauty.

March just doesn’t have a surfeit of these, most years.

And often as not these interludes are so brief that they leave no lasting impression.

At the moment you glimpse the fetching buttercup, winking from beneath the sagebrush, you are forced to squint and turn away as a squall pelts your cheeks with icy rain and desert grit.

 

Letters to the Editor for March 29, 2013


5J recall took money that could have gone to schools

Kerry McQuisten’s recent letter in which she portrays herself as a victim who has been exonerated is incorrect on both counts. McQuisten signed her name to a recall petition that contains multiple provable falsehoods (for details see http://bakercityrecallfacts.blogspot.com). In doing so, she besmirched the reputations of two people whose only sin is they volunteered with no pay to help improve the education of this community’s children and she cost the 5J District $10,092.58, funds that could have been used for the children’s education.

 My complaint to the Secretary of State was not for vengeance. It was a request for accountability. Unfortunately, the Oregon statute has a loophole. A person only has to say that he/she didn’t know the statements in a recall petition were false and the state can go no further.  This is what has happened in this case.

 McQuisten says in her letter that the Secretary of State “found no evidence that our ballot statement was false.” I have a copy of the letter she refers to and it actually says that the Secretary of State found “insufficient evidence that you knowingly made false statements,” which is entirely different.

 The kindest thing that can be said of McQuisten is that she made no effort to check the facts on her recall petition in her haste to pursue her destructive agenda. She now fashions herself as a reporter for the Record Courier. I would leave it to the readers of that paper to decide about her credibility. 

 The takeaway is that the children have been deprived of funds that should have been used for their education, the community has been put through a wrenching recall petition,  and two good people have been unfairly attacked all based on a series of provable lies. If you value the community’s children’s education don’t vote for any candidate with any ties to McQuisten or Mr. Knight in the upcoming election for two school board positions. Do your homework; find out who each candidate is and what their agenda is. And vote for the children, not McQuisten’s destructive agenda.

Rusty Munn

Baker City

Daugherty the best choice to replace Peggi Timm

Those of us who are members of OTEC will soon be receiving ballots that will include selecting someone to replace Peggi Timm, one of OTEC’s original founders and the first board president. Those are big shoes to fill. I will never forget when Peggi and others approached the Baker City Council with the idea of forming a cooperative to supply our local power needs. I thought then that it would be a nearly impossible task – but I underestimated Peggi’s ability and tenacity. She has contributed so much to our community in many different roles through the years; we owe her a great deal. Thank you, Peggi.

So who should we select to replace her? We have a very strong candidate in Randy Daugherty. We’ve done a lot of business with Randy over the years. We’ve worked with him and watched him serve our community as a local business man, a member of the Budget Committee, a member of the Planning Commission, and member of the Baker City Council. He is a man of integrity. He is fiscally conservative. He was born and raised in Baker City. He understands the needs of our communities better than any of the other candidates presented to us. He fully meets all the competencies established by the co-op for new members of the board of directors. Please join us in voting for Randy for OTEC Board Position 9.

Larry and Peggy Pearson

Baker City

Chase has all qualifications for OTEC board

Charlene Chase is the prime candidate for the OTECC Board Position No. 9. Ms. Chase has the desire, time and qualifications to represent customers in our electrical cooperative. As a school administrator, and as a school district board member, she gained expertise in cooperative management. She will use these skills to help OTECC provide its members safe and reliable power in the most economical way possible.

Her community involvement through important community programs, including American Association of University Women, Baker County CASA, Baker Web Academy and Baker Early College Charter School Board, has given her insight into the needs of community members and has honed her abilities to work with many different kinds of folks.

Her goals for the OTECC Board considerations include: long-term economical energy for members by insuring current and future energy needs are met; keeping technology current; exploring opportunities for economic development; maintaining quality service while controlling operating costs and making sure that the Board represents member interests. When we think about a member of any board that represents us, we want that person to have a great deal of desire, time, and energy to complete the mission. We firmly believe that Ms. Chase has all of these characteristics plus the qualifications to bring a well-rounded set of life experiences that make her a very informed, active, working member of the OTECC Board.

Irv and Susan Townsend

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for March 27, 2013


So was it a wolf or wasn’t it a wolf?

What, may I ask, is a “possible wolf?”

Milo Pope

Baker City

Daugherty the overwhelming choice for OTEC board

We have known Randy Daugherty for many years both on a personal and professional level. His steady focus on all aspects of life make him the overwhelming choice for OTEC Board Position 9. Whether it be his professional life, his personal life or volunteering he has always put attention to detail a top priority. We have often heard him say “if you do the absolute best you can, that still might not be good enough.” We know as an OTEC board director, Randy will put forth the time and effort necessary to represent OTEC members at the highest level.

Join us in voting Randy Daugherty, OTEC Position 9.

Steve and Cindy McLean

Baker City

Doug Dalton has excellent qualifications for OTEC board

As you are identifying the most qualified candidates to serve our community on the OTEC board, it would be in your best interests to look closely at the characteristics of Doug Dalton. Doug currently serves as the chief financial officer for the Baker 5J School District. Our profession has been in economic stress for the past few years. I have witnessed other school districts and educational staff suffer both financially and professionally. Without adequate funding to sufficiently operate, staff has been reduced and days have been furloughed within those schools. Doug’s ability to implement a trajectory of planning has enabled Baker School District to make adjustments with minimal impact on student achievement.

Doug Dalton’s background knowledge is not in education but he does his research and applies his business sense to maintain our standards of excellence. Recognizing he has many years of experience in the utility and energy profession, I can only imagine the impact he could have serving on the OTEC board. Doug approaches the decision-making process well-informed and his skill set is just what our community needs to maintain the quality of life and resources we have come to appreciate and expect.

Nanette Lehman

Baker City

Dalton has extensive knowledge of electric utilities

Doug Dalton is a very qualified candidate to represent our electric utility needs as a member of the OTEC board of directors.

Prior to returning to Eastern Oregon in 2003, Doug worked seven years at Idaho Power. During that time he gained extremely valuable executive skills in accounting, finance and management that have helped him to understand the intricacies of the electric utility industry.

His experience with Idaho Power, plus the last 3 1/2 years as chief financial officer at Baker 5J has given Doug an insight to the art of boardsmanship.

Doug, his wife, Heidi and their two daughters are strong, responsible citizens of Baker County.

The Dalton family are very thoughtful and kind neighbors.

Please join us in voting for Doug Dalton to be a member of the OTEC board of directors. The OTEC ballots will be in the mail this Friday, March 29.

Dale and Leslie Bingham

Haines

 
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