Barbee e-mail saga continues, slowly

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I'll be glad when the political climate in Augusta cools off to just being mean, petty and underhanded again instead of exploitative, vicious and heartless.

It's bound to happen even though 17 people are vying for five seats on the Augusta Commission, which usually generates simple character assassinations, aggravated residency challenges and multiple reports of political sign stealing, the first of which merely titillates everyone's craving for dirt.

The second, a more serious offense, usually comes to naught because proof positive is so hard to come by, and as far as the sign stealing, nobody cares but the victim.

Meanwhile, the clamoring continues for Augusta Housing Authority Board member Dave Barbee's head by ministers and local civil rights groups because of his ill-considered e-mail to developer brothers Clay and Braye Boardman about evacuating the Gilbert Manor housing project to make room for the Medical College of Georgia expansion - a letter that, unfortunately for Mr. Barbee, included a reference to increasing the city's white population.

As it turned out, Mr. Barbee's figures were all wrong, but the damage was done when the e-mail went into cyberspace and the Democrats went into overdrive.

After Mayor Deke Copenhaver asked Mr. Barbee to resign from the housing authority board, he left for the Bahamas and missed all the fun. But there's more to come. The Rev. James L. Reid is on Tuesday's Augusta Commission agenda to speak about the e-mail, and Commissioner Marion Williams wants it read into the minutes.

WE NEITHER CONDEMN NOR CONDONE: The latest emergency meeting to be called in response to the e-mail was the Augusta-Richmond County Human Relations Commission, a body Mr. Barbee served on for 6 years, two of those as chairman, for which he received the board's praise and a plaque. Chairman Robert Smalley said he called the meeting at the behest of Vice Chairwoman Stella Nunnally, who reported receiving prodding from the public to take a stand.

It was really sort of comical because after Mr. Smalley's opening remarks, they all seemed reluctant to say anything, so finally Executive Director Frank Thomas asked whether they were going to issue a formal statement.

Then they went into a long discussion about a motion that would state that Mr. Barbee was no longer on the board. Finally, Michael McCullen, the secretary of the Richmond County Democratic Party, said he failed to see why they were spending so much time on that instead of the content of the e-mail.

Member Renee D'Antignac said she hadn't read the e-mail but had heard about it and thought they should go ahead and vote.

The final motion was to issue a news release stating that Mr. Barbee was no longer a member of the commission and that it did not condone his e-mail message.

THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY ... Former Richmond County Extension agent Clyde Lester introduced Augusta Commissioner Don Grantham, the speaker at last week's Exchange Club meeting, with these words:

"I want to leave you with just one quick thing before I present Don," he said. "I want you to remember the Alamo. I want you to remember George Armstrong Custer. And I want you to remember Jim Whitehead."

SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT: After Mr. Grantham had recounted examples of ongoing economic development in Augusta, sales tax projects and the state Transportation Department's $225-plus million redesign of Interstate 20 at Bobby Jones Expressway, Dr. Randy Smith said Mr. Grantham had failed to mention one very important project: the $93 million expansion of University Hospital.

"And I'm happy to say that not one dime of the $93 million is from tax money," Dr. Smith said.

Mr. Grantham praised Dr. Smith and the hospital and noted that the local government no longer has to pay University Hospital $4 million a year for indigent care.

"But that's not a thing to brag about," Dr. Smith said. "We're the only county in the state that doesn't do that."

"Well, maybe we ought to brag about that," Mr. Grantham said.

HE WANTS HIS OWN MOUTHPIECE: New Richmond County school Superintendent Dana Bedden wants to have his own legal counsel and has talked with state Sen. Ed Tarver, an attorney with Hull Towill Norman Barrett & Salley. Mr. Tarver said he'd like the job if there are no legal conflicts.

THERE'S ONE IN EVERY CROWD: Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek held his third public hearing on the Ellis Street Canal last week, once again to rave reviews from the folks there, with one rare exception from a woman who said she'd rather have a Wal-Mart in downtown Augusta.

TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION: The Simpsons scenario about a monorail in City Ink two weeks ago wasn't so farfetched after all.

Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority, said that when he moved to Augusta in 1968 to take a job as senior planner for the Augusta-Richmond County Planning Commission, there was an ambitious master plan on the books that called for an elevated monorail system.

The plan was shelved. Eventually, the city and Augusta Tomorrow hired American City Corp. to develop a new master plan in 1982 that led to the Riverwalk and the hotel/convention center.

If the city thought I.M. Pei's improvements made downtown gaudy after the malls turned it into a ghost town, just think what an aging, unused monorail might have looked like.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BRAIN: Meanwhile, Mr. Cheek's bold proposal to turn Ellis Street into a canal has us thinking about other bold ideas that are just as feasible and just as likely to happen:

- The Giant Water Slide. Augusta builds a 100-foot high water slide at 13th Street that flows downhill through Broad Street until you land at Fifth Street, where you pick up a ski-lodge-style chair lift that ferries you back to the top.

Price: $5 million. Economic impact: $50 million (Emergency swimsuit sales, towel rental, increased membership in diet plans, etc.)

- Bumper-car only downtown. A section of downtown Augusta from 13th to Fifth and between Greene and Reynolds streets is blocked off from regular traffic and covered by a giant electrified grid. Bumper cars are then stationed at regular intervals for patrons to use. For First Fridays, the drunken-driving laws are suspended (at least for that section).

Price: $10 million. Economic impact: $60 million (whiplash lawsuits separate).

- Air Hockey Ellis. Instead of being filled with water, Ellis Street is dug up and replaced with block-long air hockey tables strong enough to keep a Frisbee aloft. A goal is placed at the ends of each block for the players to defend, and the surrounding buildings become the walls of the rink. Augusta parlays its status as a disc golf haven to become the world headquarters of a rockin' new sport.

Price: $15 million. Economic impact: $50 gazillion dollars (Serving as the epicenter of trendy new sport, endorsement deals, agents, sales of performance-enhancing drugs, etc.)

Cost estimates completely arbitrary, as usual. All estimates of economic impact derived by the customary methods (guesstimate times two, Magic 8-ball, fudge a little here and there).

All of it would still be less expensive than the canal idea.

City Ink thanks Staff Writers Johnny Edwards and Tom Corwin for their contributions to this week's column.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (36) Add comment
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Eileen51
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Eileen51 09/16/07 - 09:47 am
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Once again you have

Once again you have demonstrated how stupid you are. What about the cost of doing what Augusta has been doing for the past 20 or so years. Nothing significant. Are you too inept to look at the economic data on the internet? It is clear that while you lack any real ideas of your own you will ridicule the ideas of others. Clearly you would have been on the side of those opposing the origional construction of the canal. The question beggs to be asked when will sylvia do anything but throw stones. You seem perfectly happy to serve the bubbas that do nothing and have no ideas. The ellis street option is a great and doable idea if not crushed by nonsense half truths and stupid comments. The public wants Augusta to thrive you apparently are happy with things just the way they are.

idealistic
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idealistic 09/16/07 - 10:25 am
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Why do we try to bail out a

Why do we try to bail out a dying City with government money? It is obvious that Augusta is like a patient with terminal cancer. It may be impossible to operate without killing the patient. Augusta's Black population could care less about the survival of Downtown Augusta. Power politically is their goal. You may not like what Dave Barbee put in his e-mail but he is on target. Black Politicians jealously defend their political ground regardless of the concequences to the community. Until this attitude changes, no amount of money can save the patient. Just prepare for higher and higher taxes. Less efficient government and continued flight from the area until Augusta throwes the bums out. Hopefully sooner than later.

brainyboomer
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brainyboomer 09/16/07 - 10:28 am
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Dear Eileen51: I assume the

Dear Eileen51:

I assume the "51" after your name refers to your IQ. Sylvia Cooper is one of the brightest journalists in the country and the Chronicle is fortunate to have someone of her ability on staff.

The poor economic developement of Augusta will not be solved by a canal. Mr. Cheeks brainstorm ranks right up there with the Golf Hall of Fame and the dragstrip race track. Economic development thrives in a environment of cohesive planning and investment. Perhaps you missed that when you did your "research" on the internet regarding "economic data". One cannot hold the media responsible for the idiotic ideas of some ambitious politicians. Ms. Cooper, tongue in cheek, made some remarkably valid comparisons of projects as rediculous as the Eliis Street Canal. This is Augusta, not Venice, Italy.

justus4
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justus4 09/16/07 - 12:22 pm
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The Ellis Street idea is
Unpublished

The Ellis Street idea is workable, but not using other cities as a model. Why? Because of the level of intellegence of the city leaders, historicial events, bipartisan efforts, and ability to create a vision that the city can embrace. Augusta has demonstrated a lack of high intellegence and unwillingness to put aside personal differences, that would benefit the entire city. Thus, common sense provides a realistic picture of the future, not illusions of possibilities. PS. Whose concept was it to create the Riverwalk?

Little Lamb
48010
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Little Lamb 09/16/07 - 01:35 pm
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Now the great Augusta

Now the great Augusta Commission wishes to get into the Barbee E-mail fray. What a waste of time. They will talk and talk and "read" the E-mail into the minutes. Williams will move to censure Dave Barbee and then Steve Shepard will tell them they cannot censure anyone not on the commission itself. But Williams will press for a vote anyway and the vote will fail. Let's let this E-mail fade into the dustbin of history.

Little Lamb
48010
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Little Lamb 09/16/07 - 02:00 pm
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To Justus, former Mayor (now

To Justus, former Mayor (now the late) Ed McIntyre always took credit for the idea of Riverwalk. I don't know any information to the contrary.

Eileen51
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Eileen51 09/16/07 - 02:27 pm
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Dear Brainyboomer I guess

Dear Brainyboomer I guess name calling is all you and people like you against the ellis street project can do. I guess I hit a nerve!!!!!!! Maybe your affraid I was right!!!!! I think you need a recheck along with your other cronies. Have you ever lived outside of the Augusta area, I think not. Eileen51.

bone
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bone 09/16/07 - 09:39 pm
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for heaven's sake, please

for heaven's sake, please spell correctly if you're going to belittle someone else's intelligence, justus4. you actually seem to be making a valid point about the problems that would face any new downtown effort.

canalfishing
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canalfishing 09/16/07 - 09:55 pm
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Why do we try to bail out a

Why do we try to bail out a dying City with government money? It is obvious that Augusta is like a patient with terminal cancer. It may be impossible to operate without killing the patient. Augusta's Black population could care less about the survival of Downtown Augusta. Power politically is their goal. You may not like what Dave Barbee put in his e-mail but he is on target. Black Politicians jealously defend their political ground regardless of the concequences to the community. Until this attitude changes, no amount of money can save the patient. Just prepare for higher and higher taxes. Less efficient government and continued flight from the area until Augusta throwes the bums out. Hopefully sooner than later.
Posted by idealistic on Sun Sep 16, 2007 11:25 AM This is unreal,you bette repent. i see someon close to you with "cancer".

georgia girl1
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georgia girl1 09/16/07 - 11:56 pm
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Augusta - Don't take Sylvia

Augusta - Don't take Sylvia serious ... she's not a journalist - she's a gossip columnist ... no one takes a gossip columnist serious, for everything they say is "hearsay"!!! READ THIS: Some stories don't make headlines, but they do make news. Augusta Chronicle staffer writer Sylvia Cooper shares every Sunday some of the things she's heard on the politics, pitfalls and possibilities of life in our town. Even the Chronicle STATES she writes about hearsay. Hearsay is not to be taken serious by anyone!!! It just gives those that can't think for themselves something to think about.

coco rubio
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coco rubio 09/17/07 - 07:49 am
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sylvia is one of the best

sylvia is one of the best writers in town......i love her humor and her inside knowledge of what is going on in augusta......with tongue planted firmly in her cheek, she takes the weekly occurences around town and serves them up in a very entertaining way.......of course some of you aren't going to like what she says....or even get it......but that's part of the beauty of sylvia's pieces.......keep up the good work!

deekster
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deekster 09/17/07 - 08:46 am
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Amen !!!!! Sylvia ROCKS

Amen !!!!! Sylvia ROCKS !!!!!!

deekster
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deekster 09/17/07 - 08:56 am
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Hey, I had forgot about

Hey, I had forgot about another of our non-caucasian leaders. FRANK THOMAS, another ex television newsman who moved on to local politics. FRANK THOMAS remembers MAY 1970. FRANK was going to be the "beginning of peace and progress in the New Augusta". With the Human Relations Board in place Augusta was "reborn and rising out of the fire (literally fires everywhere), purged of racism". Then it was ED MCINTIRE. ED was fresh form his mother's church with "love,peace and joy" in his heart. ED would finally bring all people together with the common bond of "Christian Love". ED got into politics and mama's values went out the window. "Glory".

toppergem
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toppergem 09/17/07 - 09:00 am
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You may need to look a little

You may need to look a little further Dr. Bedden. You are way to new to the community...you don't yet know where the bones are buried yet. Every recommendation is not necessarily a good recommendation.

deekster
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deekster 09/17/07 - 09:01 am
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DANA BEDDEN needs someone to

DANA BEDDEN needs someone to "Articulate" for him. Where is RENITA CRAWFORD? Did she follow her dreams and move on to a "major broadcasting market". Why does an educated, educator need someone to talk for him. Is this a sign of what he invisions for the students. I don't think that is progress.

deekster
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deekster 09/17/07 - 09:04 am
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DEKE is in the Bahamas. He

DEKE is in the Bahamas. He propbably visiting ANNA NICOLE (-: I hope he brings back some ideas fto attract tourism.

deekster
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deekster 09/17/07 - 09:14 am
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On a serious note, we need to

On a serious note, we need to look at what created Augusta, what has made Augusta successful in the past and what has caused its demise. Then make a choice. Augusta started as a "fort", then it was a "fort", the it was several "forts", and now it has a "fort". It also has a plant that can and did make "nuclear bombs". It was "trading post". Then a "cotton trading center" with cotton mills. Then it was a small. but, "commercial center of the area". It got very sick in the 1960's and died in "May 1970". It was placed on life support system. Frequent tranfusions of "federal grant money" has kept its heart beating. The brain is dead.

shivas
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shivas 09/17/07 - 09:54 am
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Dave Barbee finally does the

Dave Barbee finally does the honorable thing by resigning and apologizing for his less than well thought-out comments. Augusta's not dead folks. It's actually on the verge of becoming a great city. Currently, we are at a point where we are confronting some crucial differences of philosophy and opinions, and it's got government stagnant. At some point, strong leadership will emerge on both sides, and Augusta will be steamrolling. We will have dealt with all the acrimony and racial divides, and move-on for the sake of something larger. Some fringe folks on both sides will resist because they love chaos, but at the end of the day they will be defeated. There's my rosy picture.

realcooldude
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realcooldude 09/17/07 - 10:59 am
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dave barbee had no reason to

dave barbee had no reason to apologize ,much less resign.
another hard working honest man has been given the axe to satisfy hue and cry of a bunch of losers and fools.
the local ,so called, ministers need to tend to their flock, and keep their own hands clean.
shivas, what'shonorable about a man being forced to resign , when he told the truth.
next time somebody resigns , let's talk marion williams, calvin holland or some of the other inarticulate ,stupid "leaders" you people aspire to.
it's all a mystery why there is strife, right?

Bizarro
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Bizarro 09/17/07 - 11:13 am
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If I were Barbee I would be

If I were Barbee I would be in contact with the ACLU. I think he has got a case. How can you pick him out of a sea of ignorant racists-the mayor and all the commissioners.

shivas
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shivas 09/17/07 - 11:39 am
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realcooldude and bizzaro,

realcooldude and bizzaro, Barbee resigned and apologized. No lawsuit when you admit you were wrong. cooldude, why do you think he apologized if there was no reason to do so? Sounds like you are playing out your own personal issues rather than letting the man who wrote the words take his on stance on the matter. And please tell me who "you people," are?

tellitlikeitis
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tellitlikeitis 09/17/07 - 11:42 am
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I have traveled around the

I have traveled around the world and Augusta is the only place I have ever been that is raciallly divided in their government. When they take votes on issues it is almost always white vote against black vote. It should be what is best for Augusta. Augusta will never grow until they can get past being racially divided. Marion Williams is the leader.
The canal is a great idea...whether it came from a white or black person.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 09/17/07 - 12:36 pm
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I was joking. He apologized

I was joking. He apologized to be politically correct and diffuse a situation that would impact his party. Fact is he committed no crime or error. It is not against the law to be a bigot. You can be a skinhead Nazi and seek public office. Most of the commissioners are racist-white and black. What a farce! I guess if he said we are going to have a chocolate town he would have gotten a standing ovation. I guess we should have asked and asked for Bill Clinton's and George Bush's resignation. Well actually that would have been a good idea.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/17/07 - 01:19 pm
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I am disappointed that Dave

I am disappointed that Dave Barbee knuckled under the pressure and resigned. He is a man of good character (actually it is his character that made him resign - he wanted what is best for the city). I detest this new political "sport" where people "call for resignation" of anyone who says something they don't like.

chatty814
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chatty814 09/17/07 - 02:35 pm
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If he was of "good character"

If he was of "good character" little lamb he would not have made the racial comments that he made.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 09/17/07 - 02:37 pm
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I am not glad to see him

I am not glad to see him resign. I was hoping that something good would come of this. However, by resigning he just shown he has more character than the people that originally put forth the demographic argument, then turned around and assassinated his character for a private email saying the same things they have been saying publicly all along. I am really disappointed that none of the persons who have uttered racist slurs in public are being held accountable or are even coming forth to humbly apologize for their part in this mess. It takes character and a real man to apologize. I hope they will mend their ways or the heart of Augusta will never heal.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 09/17/07 - 04:05 pm
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Excellent post Baroness maybe

Excellent post Baroness maybe some posters here will pay heed.

deekster
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deekster 09/17/07 - 04:33 pm
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Take our local scene for

Take our local scene for instance. Mayor Young never told us he was Mormon. Not until he had "moved on" with his political career did he enlighten us to his heeritage. I wonder why? Was it not politiclly correct? First Baptist is usually the choice of individuals on the way up the political ladder. You have to belong to a reverred instituion of faith to show you can be trusted in politics and business. Who can diagree with a "church going man". Take Mayor Deke's recent "prayer meeting at First Baptist with Ralph Barbee. Pray with your "christian brother" and then ask him to resign when he was telling the truth about a situation the mayor knows is true. "Woe to hose who stand in the doors of the church and prevent others from entering. It were better that a millstone be tied around their necks".

funnyboy
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funnyboy 09/17/07 - 05:20 pm
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No chance , no hope, Augusta

No chance , no hope, Augusta is doomed!

bone
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bone 09/17/07 - 05:23 pm
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good, he resigned - now let's

good, he resigned - now let's move on to other issues.

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