Monthly Archives: May 2012

Menlo Park Council agrees to rezone Menlo Park for 1,975 homes.. within 6 months

Menlo Park settles housing lawsuit City commits to updating plan, finding affordable housing sites
by Sandy BrundageAlmanac Staff

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Identifying sites for affordable housing just jumped to the top of Menlo Park’s priority list, according to a lawsuit settlement agreement released Thursday (May 17). Three housing advocacy groups filed the suit yesterday, alleging that the city has failed to comply with state-mandated housing laws. “Unless compelled by this Court to perform those acts and duties and to refrain from acts as required by law, the City will continue to refuse to carry out those duties and will continue to violate the law, and Petitioners and lower-income persons and affordable housing developers and/or housing service providers will continue to be injured as a result,” the lawsuit stated. Every seven years, according to state law, cities must assess and plan to meet their fair share of regional housing needs, which includes affordable housing. Communities also must plan zoning so that it’s possible to provide the right number of housing units, although the law doesn’t require cities to actually build them. The lawsuit — filed by Peninsula Interfaith Action, Urban Habitat, and Youth United for Community Action — points out that Menlo Park hasn’t met the state requirements since 1992. Menlo Park must commit to finishing an update by March 2013 as part of the settlement. “We’re about 10 years behind,” said Menlo Park City Manager Alex McIntyre. “We should have taken care of the Housing Element Update before now but fell behind due to other priority planning projects. These planning projects could achieve a substantial portion of what is required to meet Housing Element law.” Mr. McIntyre explained that, in the absence of the negotiated settlement, the court could force the City to complete the update within 120 days. “The benefit of the settlement agreement is to allow the City additional time to incorporate a public outreach and participation process that would otherwise not be possible under a shorter court-ordered timeline.” Possible sanctions for not complying with the state housing laws include a moratorium on all non-residential building permits and the withholding of grant funding to maintain the local roadway network. “The last thing the City of Menlo Park wants right now is to interfere with the progress of our local economy,” Mr. McIntyre said. According to the staff, the city may need to provide the zoning necessary to add sites for 1,975 housing units, both market-rate and affordable housing, to its current stock of 12,500. One of the first steps will be an inventory of local housing, existing capacity for additional homes within current zoning, and any new housing built since 1998, which could be deducted from the preliminary number. The settlement states that Menlo Park will identify potential housing sites for affordable housing, create zoning that provides incentives for affordable housing production at those locations, and set aside a portion of local below-market-rate funds for nonprofit development of affordable housing on those sites. The city will also form a housing element steering committee made up of two council members, two planning commissioners and two housing commissioners. The steering committee will first meet in June and will oversee public involvement in the process. The settlement agreement goes before the City Council on Tuesday, May 22. The council will also be asked to approve plans to launch a housing element update process within the next few weeks, review a set of draft criteria for choosing specific sites for zoning changes, and appoint two members to the steering committee. The city plans to hold a series of community workshops in July and August to get public input on the proposed changes in order to finish the update by next spring. “We want and need the community’s help in deciding how and where we can plan for additional and high density housing in Menlo Park. If we work together, we can come up with a plan tailored to our community that will meet our needs and comply with state law,” Mayor Kirsten Keith said. Go to the project’s website to review associated documents and the proposed process.

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2 Huge Stories on the Same Day, affecting the Bay Area

Facebook goes public
Zuckerberg, employees celebrate on Menlo Park campus
by Sandy Brundage
Almanac Staff

I think it is very exciting that this company went public and I wish them the best.. -Michael Stogner

Instead of chatting on Facebook, a lot of people are talking about Facebook today. The social networking giant debuted itspublic stock offering at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time today, with initial shares trading at $42.05 on NASDAQ, up from its IPO price of $38.
Track the current trading on this CNNMoney site.

The stock exchange recorded the bell-ringing ceremony held by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s Menlo Park campus (click here to watch the action).

Menlo Park, as the home of Facebook’s new headquarters on 1 Hacker Way, will see its name mentioned in newspapers around the world as one of the biggest global events ever to happen in a town that prides itself on “village character” unfolds. According to CNN, going public stands to raise at least $16 billion for Facebook, making it the largest tech IPO and third largest IPO in the United States.

Some of that wealth will flow back into Menlo Park; the city recently approved an agreement related to Facebook’s planned campus expansion that will generate $8.5 million total in graduated payments during the next 10 years, and followed by $5 million during the subsequent four years, as well as funding for community and infrastructure improvements.

Facebook employees celebrated in their traditional manner by holding an all-night Hackathon that started on Thursday.

HP may cut up to 35,000 jobs, reports say

Palo Alto tech giant Hewlett-Packard Company may lay off as many as 35,000 workers – nearly 10 percent of its 350,000-person workforce, according to recent reports.

The company has declined to comment, but news organizations including Bloomberg and AllThingsD, citing unnamed sources, stated the company plans to lay off between 25,000 and 35,000 workers.

There’s no word yet on how many HP employees in Palo Alto would be affected by the layoffs, which could be announced as early as next week, according to the reports.

The layoffs would come at the end of a tumultuous period for the personal computer giant, including three different CEOs in 3 years and falling sales figures.

Its first-quarter earnings in 2012 decreased by 44 percent compared to 2011’s first quarter. During the same period, its net income dropped to 73 cents per share from $1.17, or $1.47 billion from $2.6 billion.

— Eric Van Susteren

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Congratulations on the temporary withdraw of the Saltworks plan. Good work from Redwood City Neighbors United.

These are the donations from Cargill to Shelly Kessler’s Political Group called COPE

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$2500

2011-06-29-2011-07-25

DMB ASSOCIATES INC. AND AFFILIATES

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$5000

2010-11-09-2011-01-21

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$2000

2010-06-30-2010-07-15

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$300

2009-07-28-2009-09-23

DMB ASSOCIATES, INC. AND AFFILIATES

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$10000

2008-11-13-2009-01-22

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS, LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$1500

2008-06-30-2008-07-22

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS, LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$1500

2007-07-05-2007-09-26

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$2500

2011-06-29-2011-07-25

DMB ASSOCIATES INC. AND AFFILIATES

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$5000

2010-11-09-2011-01-21

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$2000

2010-06-30-2010-07-15

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$300

2009-07-28-2009-09-23

DMB ASSOCIATES, INC. AND AFFILIATES

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$10000

2008-11-13-2009-01-22

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS, LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$1500

2008-06-30-2008-07-22

REDWOOD CITY INDUSTRIAL SALTWORKS, LLC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85258

$1500

2007-07-05-2007-09-26

pastedGraphic.pdf

Councilwoman calls for Cargill land vote

April 12, 2012, 05:00 AM By Steve Penna Special to the Daily Journal

Stating she had been “thinking about it for quite some time,” Councilwoman Rosanne Foust asked her colleagues on the Redwood City Council to consider placing a measure on the November 2012 ballot asking voters about the proposed Cargill Saltworks property development.

“I would not normally suggest something like this but this is such a major matter that appears to have divided the community,” Foust said at the council’s April 9 meeting. “I feel very strongly, even though projects can go through substantial changes during the Environmental Impact [Review] process we should ask them (voters) if this council and staff and community should continue to analyze this.”

The issue at hand is the 1,436-acre Cargill Saltworks property located just off Highway 101 along Seaport Boulevard. The property has been used for salt production since 1901. Initially owned by the Redwood City Saltworks, it was sold to the Stauffer Chemical Company of San Francisco in 1905 and later to the Leslie Salt Company in 1941. Cargill purchased the Leslie Salt Company, including its Redwood City plant site, in 1978. At its peak, the Redwood City plant site produced and shipped 350,000 tons of salt annually.

The Saltworks plan covers more than 2.2 square miles of industrial salt-harvesting property. Portions of the site have been in salt production for more than 100 years and the site is currently off limits to the public. The plan calls for 50 percent of the property to be preserved for permanent open space, public recreation and tidal marsh restoration and the remaining half be developed into housing, schools, parks and retail and transit facilities. The site could have up to 12,000 housing units.

Since 2006, DMB Pacific Ventures has engaged Redwood City residents on the future on the Saltworks site. In 2008, Measure W asked voters to change the city’s charter to effectively stop the Saltworks project but was defeated.

Also in 2008, Measure V asked voters; “Shall a Charter Amendment requiring majority voter approval for future development of the Cargill Lands, consisting of approximately 1,450 acres east of Highway 101 and south of Seaport Boulevard, with exemptions for takings and vested rights, be adopted?” It was also was rejected by voters.

Since that time, the city has embarked on an extensive environmental review of the Saltworks site. In response to the significant amount of public input during the city’s review process, DMB notified city staff that they were evaluating future alternatives for the Saltworks site, which continues today.

The announcement of the Saltworks plan was the start of a lengthy period of official study, evaluation and public review. The City Council will make final decisions on the development based upon the impacts and benefits to Redwood City.

Foust asked the council to consider, “calling for an advisory vote on the project description” after the EIR is presented to the city. The council and city staff is currently waiting for the EIR to be completed.

Recently, a community group calling itself Redwood City Neighbors United has been critical of the council’s EIR process. The group’s slogan is, “We believe in responsible growth — not Saltworks!”

“At minimum, this creates the appearance of a conflict of interest that will result in studies that may be perceived by the public as biased,” wrote Dan Ponti, the co-chair of Redwood City Neighbors United, on the EIR process. “At worst, it affords Cargill/DMB the clear opportunity to control the content and conclusions of reports before anyone, including the City, gets to see them.”

Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre took exception to the group’s comments and responded in a letter.

“Only when the new review and scoping process is complete, and the project description is finalized and ready for environmental review, will the city begin preparation of the EIR document, independently, with the city’s own consultants,” her letter stated. “It’s a fundamental responsibility of Redwood City to analyze the project description in a transparent, impartial, detailed manner, and bring it into the public review process.”

Foust is the chief executive of the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, also known as SAMCEDA, which has endorsed the project. Last year, Foust received a ruling from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission that she acted in violation of state ethics rules when she participated in a decision regarding the project. She has since voluntarily recused herself from any council discussion of the project.

“But you have been dinged consistently out there and I’ve been dinged, which is why I will not be involved in discussion in the future,” Foust said as she addressed her colleagues about community discussions on the proposed development. She also expressed concern about how the project is continuing to divide the community and taking a “tremendous toll” on the council and city staff. The measure would, she said, “allow the council to hear from the public at large in addition to the various ‘interested’ groups.”

A representative from Save the Bay, the environmental nonprofit strongly against the project, said it is premature to comment on Foust’s proposal.

We have a “rough sense of what she said,” said Stephen Knight, political director of Save the Bay, about Foust’s proposal.

The developer also has a wait-and see-approach.

“We are considering the implications of giving voters a say on whether to undertake environmental review of a revised restoration and reuse plan for the Saltworks property and await details of what the City Council wants to do” said Jay Reed, director of Communications and Strategic Planning for DMB Associates, Inc.

“I feel that a well-crafted project description that includes fundamental community benefits would be enough to present to the voters of Redwood City,” Foust said. “This is an opportunity for this council to discuss this,” and “consider putting it on an agenda for a future meeting.”

This is an “opportunity for you to lead, for you to actually step out and say this is what we need to do for our community,” Foust told her colleagues.

Aguirre said she would look at the suggestion and put it on an agenda for a future council meeting to discuss.

“This is an opportune time to explore various options in moving forward on this unprecedented project for the community of Redwood City,” said Aguirre. “Prior to re-engaging in that process, the City Council may want to consider whether the revised project is of interest to the community and worthy of further exploration and analysis.”

Saltworks plans off the table

May 08, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

The Redwood City Council last night agreed by default to shelve the Saltworks development plan stalled for three years without a project description necessary to complete the application and finish environmental reviews of the controversial proposal.

The council did not take any vote, however, as it was a moot point coming after developer DMB Redwood City Saltworks announcement last Thursday to formally withdraw its 50-50 balanced plan while working on a scaled-back option.

Regardless, both the council and nearly two dozen members of the public took the opportunity to voice opinions on the proposal and future of the 1,436-acre site of salt ponds which preservationists want restored to tidal wetlands and that the developer, formerly known as DMB Associates, still plans to convert partially into housing.

The packed house was informed early by Mayor Alicia Aguirre than no action would be taken and cautioned them to remain respectful. One female speaker did get a spontaneous chiding by Councilman Jeff Ira when she yelled “its time to oust Foust” — a reference to Councilwoman Rosanne Foust’s position as president of the pro-Cargill development San Mateo County Economic Development Association — and two police officers walked her from the podium.

Several of the speakers urged the council to take steps to prevent the developer from taking another stab at a project no matter how it is configured, ticking off reasons including wetlands health, traffic congestion and incompatible land use.

“We strongly urge you to add denial of application to the list of options to consider in the future,” said Gail Raabe, speaking for Redwood City Neighbors United which vocally opposed the original plan.

Save the Bay, the environmental nonprofit that has led the public fight against the plan, echoed the sentiment.

“Redwood City and the region hope this will be a permanent end to inappropriate development at this site,” said political director Stephen Knight.

Knight said the group’s preference is that DMB donate the land for restoration like that done on Bair Island.

However, resident Lou Covey did ask for an advisory vote, not on a specific plan but if development should be prohibited all together on the land.

“I think that will finally answer the major question of what the people really want,” Covey said.

The original proposal known as the 50-50 Balanced Plan called for reserving 50 percent of the land as permanent open space, public recreation and tidal marsh restoration and develop the remaining half into housing, schools, parks and retail and transit facilities. Up to 12,000 homes would have been built under this plan.

However, DMB never followed with a specific project description on which the environmental review could be complete and last November said it planned to revise and resubmit its proposal. Without a plan or any idea of when might be coming, Foust last month suggested seeking an advisory vote from the public on what the city should do. Aguirre appointed councilmembers Barbara Pierce and Ira to look at the city’s options and Thursday released a report indicating that they would ask the council to ditch both the vote idea and the proposal outright.

Last night, Ira explained he and Pierce felt it “important to put an end to a lot of the divisiveness that was created around this project.”

Hours after the council recommendation was released last week, DMB made its own announcement that it was withdrawing the proposal formally although it planned to return with a revised, scaled-back plan.

John Bruno, senior vice president and general manager for DMB Redwood City Saltworks, reiterated that position last night. Bruno said DMB has “begun working diligently on a fully revised proposal” which he promised would be “a significant departure” on a much smaller scale while including affordable housing, parks and hiking trails.

The new plan is intended to fit within the general plan’s area designated urban reserve and are set aside for future city expansion. DMB believes a scaled-back version of its plan would fall within these areas.

Formally denying the proposal frees the city from time-consuming and costly functions like responding to constant public inquiries, polls, petitions and numerous other efforts for and against the controversial development idea, according to city officials.

With Saltworks out of the way, too, city officials hope they — and the public — can focus on other big-ticket projects in the pipeline like the Stanford in Redwood City campus, the development of Depot Circle and the ongoing renovation of downtown.

“We don’t want those things to be a distraction for people not to want to be highly involved and motivated,” Ira said. “We just really wanted to take control as a city.”

In other business, the City Council unanimously agreed to ban polystyrene-based disposal food containers and raised both sewer and water utility rates. The city received 32 protest letters against the water rate increase and 31 against the sewer rate increase, said City Attorney Pamela Thompson.

The rate increases will add 12 percent to water utility charges and a $9.56-$115.76 sewer charge increase. Both go into effect July 1.

Even after Redwood City Saltworks project is withdrawn, furor continues

By Bonnie Eslinger

Daily News Staff Writer

Posted:   05/08/2012 07:22:57 AM PDT

Updated:   05/08/2012 07:23:04 AM PDT

Even though developer DMB Pacific Ventures formally withdrew its controversial Saltworks application last week, about two dozen people showed up at the Redwood City City Council meeting Monday night to give their two cents’ worth about the project, and then some.

“We are united in our opposition to the Saltworks project no matter how it is ultimately configured,” said Nancy Arbuckle, a member of Redwood City Neighbors United, which has drawn the battle lines against any development of the former Cargill salt flats east of Highway 101, just south of Seaport Boulevard.

Council Member Jeff Ira said dropping the Saltworks application for now while awaiting a revised version to be submitted hopefully will “put an end to some of the divisiveness” and allow more focus on “the great things that are happening in Redwood City.” Arbuckle said the divide was not between residents, but against DMB.

The council was scheduled to consider rejecting DMB’s application, but that became moot when John Bruno, the company’s senior vice president, submitted a letter to the city Friday indicating the development would be significantly scaled back and primarily centered on the side of the 1,436-acre Cargill site that runs parallel to Seaport Boulevard and has been used more than 100 years for salt harvesting and other industrial activities.

The proposal DMB submitted three years ago would have encompassed almost the entire property. The so-called “50/50” plan envisioned as many as 12,000 homes, offices, shops and schools on half the site, and parks, recreation areas and restored tidal marshes on the other half. DMB withdrew a project description of that proposal in November, saying it intended to make revisions based in part on public feedback.

“Our revised plan for the Saltworks will be focused on a much more limited footprint restricted to the area of greatest historic disturbance,” Bruno’s May 4 letter said. “Accordingly, we anticipate that the revised proposed development footprint will be approximately half the acreage of that proposed in the May 2009 50/50 Plan submittal.”

That footprint falls within 542 acres of Cargill property that Redwood City’s general plan has designated as “Urban Reserve,” defined as “Land to be preserved for future use to expand the limits of the urbanized area of the City,” according to Bruno’s letter. Bruno told the council Monday night DMB remains “committed to being thoughtful and thorough in developing our revised Saltworks proposal.” Most of the speakers who addressed the council said they oppose the project in any form. Stephen Knight of Oakland-based Save the Bay urged the council to tell DMB to forget about returning with another proposal. “That will only reignite community outrage,” he warned. Resident Lou Covey was among a handful of speakers who said the city should be open to an alternative proposal and advocated for an advisory vote — not on whether the Saltworks project should be considered, but to see whether residents are willing to allow anything on the Cargill site.

“Should development be prohibited altogether on the Saltworks property?” Covey suggested the question should be.

Council Member Ian Bain said now that the project has been dropped, the city should have a community discussion about what “they’d like to see on that site.” When the city drafted its general plan a few years ago, the Cargill property was excluded because it otherwise would have “hijacked” the planning process, he said.

Noting that Cargill owns the baylands property, Council Member Barbara Pierce said the city couldn’t “take away value from the property owner.”

In other action Monday night, the council approved a 12 percent increase in water rates and 9 percent jump in sewer rates for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Both rates already rose by 9 percent in each of the last two years.

Due to the latest increases, residential customers will pay from $4 to $27 more per month for water, depending on their household usage. Residential sewer rates will go up by about $5 a month.

The boost in water rates is needed in part to cover projected increases in wholesale water costs from the city’s provider, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, according to city officials. They say the extra money also is needed to improve and maintain the city’s water system, sewage pipe system and the sewage plant Redwood City shares with Belmont, San Carlos and the West Bay Sanitary District.

The council also adopted an ordinance that will ban restaurants and other food vendors from using disposable polystyrene foam food ware within city limits. The new law won’t become effective until Jan. 1, although the city said it will encourage businesses to voluntarily comply before then.

Because the Redwood City ordinance is modeled after one passed by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 2011, the county will help do outreach work and will enforce the ban. A first violation will bring a $100 fine, a second one $200 and a third $500.

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Useless Ordinance and Citizen’s Review

The Supervisors of San Mateo County made an ordinance and specify by name who is allowed to serve on the Citizen’s Review panel to challenge them.

These next two pages list the specific people who are allowed on the citizen’s review panel. They are not required to be residents of San Mateo County either.

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WAMP covers Sequoia Health Care District

ImageImage

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Stogner left out of 2 Newspapers as candidate

I m very suspicious of our county newspapers and their way of influencing the readers. As a resident of San Mateo County, I would expect our newspapers to give us thorough and correct information, especially when presenting a front page article of an upcoming election.  These 2 newspapers neglected to present all candidates that were running in this election. Why?

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The Daily Journal makes a false statement

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— On Sat, 10/16/10, Michael Stogner <michaelgstogner@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Michael Stogner <michaelgstogner@yahoo.com>

Subject: False statement op-ed

To: “Editor Sanmateodailyjournal” <letters@smdailyjournal.com>

Date: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 11:08 AM

Editor,

The San Mateo Daily Journal has made some false statements in their endorsement of Barbara, Faro and Shefren for Sequoia Healthcare District.

“In this difficult economic time, it is tempting to say the district should be dissolved so there is not taxpayer money going to philanthropic purposes.”

Here come the false statement.

“The money would still be collected and instead go to other governmental agencies, so the average tax bill would remain the same regardless of the district’s existence.”

The Grand Jury has received a legal opinion from the San Mateo County Counsel to the effect that the California Taxation and Revenue Code 96.8 authorizes a hospital district such as Sequoia Healthcare District to request the county auditor make a tax reduction in any amount down to zero for the district’s taxpayers on a yearly basis WITHOUT THE REALLOCATION OF THE REDUCED TAXES TO OTHER AGENCIES.

Michael G. Stogner

San Carlos, Ca

another e-mail i sent about incorrect information on the Atherton Almanac

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, 1 hour ago

Louise,

“editors, to absorb how the political machinery actually functions.”

I believe the editors clearly understand how the political machinery functions.

“Of the seven candidates running for the three open seats on the Sequoia Healthcare District board, four are qualified to serve.”

“Mr. Hickey’s idea to shut down the district and return money to the taxpayers is bogus ”

— by law the money will continue to be collected but distributed to the remaining special districts.”

First off, It was not Mr. Hickey’s idea to shut down and return money to the taxpayer’s,

it was the GRAND JURY.

Second: “by law the money will continue to be collected but distributed to the remaining special districts.” This is simply a deliberate false statement by the Almanac.

Recommendation 2.20

The Sequoia Healthcare District should reduce property taxes for district taxpayers unless in a future election district voters approve expenditures for purposes not approved by district voters in the 1946 measure establishing the district or in 1996 Measure H. This reduction would equal the amount expended by the district for purposes not approved by the voters in the 1946 measure or in 1996 Measure H and effectively limit district expenditures to those purposes approved by district voters. By this reduction in property tax receipts to be requested under the Revenue and Taxation Code 96.8, property taxes would be lowered for all district taxpayers.

Grand Jury Report

When you see the word Board/District think 5 People.

Here is the response to the GJ report above.

“The Board does not believe that it would be in the best interests of the District to implement the Grand Jury’s recommendations at this time and so DECLINES to do so.”

I think the Almanac owes the Taxpayers and voters of San Mateo County an explanation.

Hickey, Graham and Stogner were only going to do what 2 Grand Jury’s recommended.

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