ELECTION 2024: Presidential primary ballots arriving

February 22nd, 2024 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news No Comments »

Ballots have started arriving via USPS mail for the March 12 presidential primary. That means you can vote as soon as you have your ballot, and while you can end it in via postal mail – no stamp required – you can also use a King County Elections dropbox, since those all opened today. Here’s the countywide map; there’s one in White Center, at the library, and you can drop your ballot there until 8 pm March 12. Be aware that the ballot includes some candidates who have withdrawn – as explained by King County Elections, the candidates listed are the ones submitted by the Democratic and Republican Parties in early January and no changes were possible after that. You will have to declare an affiliation with one of those parties to cast a ballot, and the county says that’s on the record for two months but doesn’t oblige you to vote the same way in any future election.

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First food truck sets up on lot in heart of downtown White Center

February 20th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Food, White Center news 1 Comment »

TUESDAY: That’s the first food truck set up in the space that held the Locker Room Bar and Grill before two 2021 fires, at 9633 16th SW in downtown White Center. The gutted building was demolished, and a somewhat sunken lot remained – now morphing into a home for food trucks. First one is Alebrijes Oaxaca Kitchen, open daily 11 am-9 pm, with – as our photo shows – a canopy set up so you can eat there if you want to.

ADDED WEDNESDAY: Thanks to Gill for the photo of the menu:

(Click here for a larger version.)

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TAX TIME! Get free help at White Center Library

February 16th, 2024 Tracy Posted in White Center Library, White Center news No Comments »

Don’t procrastinate – get those taxes out of the way! And if you need help, volunteers are at White Center Library three days a week right now:

To read the fine print, see the flyer in full-size PDF here. (Thanks to Gill for the forward!)

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Full Tilt Ice Cream’s co-owner recovering from heart attack

February 15th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Full Tilt Ice Cream, White Center news 2 Comments »

(WCN photo of Justin and family last year as Full Tilt marked 15 years)

Full Tilt Ice Cream co-owner/co-founder Justin Cline is in the hospital, recovering from a heart attack. That’s what Cline’s partner Ann Magyar announced via social media on Wednesday, asking customers to bear with them:

We need to let you know that things at Full Tilt are rocky these days and you might notice some changes as we figure it all out. On February 5 our beloved ice cream man, Justin, had a heart attack. He has been in critical condition since. He is getting better, but very slowly. KCFD and North Highline FD saved his life, and now an army of incredible nurses and doctors are taking care of him. If you notice parts of the website ordering is down or we aren’t as quick to answer messages, please be patient. Justin is the heart and soul of Full Tilt, but our community is rallying and we are doing our best.

Justin and Ann opened Full Tilt in 2008. (That same year he also co-founded this website.)

ADDED: Since we published this, friends have set up a crowdfunding account to help Justin and his family get through this – here’s the link.

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VIDEO: Conversation with your new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

February 12th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

After six years on the Seattle City Council, West Seattle resident Teresa Mosqueda moved to the King County Council last month. Following her November election win with 55 percent of the vote, she took office last month in the District 8 seat vacated by Joe McDermott after 13 years. As shown on this map, her district stretches from downtown Seattle to Burien, also encompassing West Seattle, Georgetown, South Park, Tukwila, and Burien, as well as White Center and the rest of unincorporated North Highline, plus Vashon and Maury Islands. As she had said during the campaign – announced almost exactly a year ago – her big focuses are on health and housing, but there’s a lot more to pay attention to. We sat down with Councilmember Mosqueda for a half-hour video-recorded chat at the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse this past Thursday. The unedited video is above; below, key points from our conversation.

We asked what the transition’s been like. She had words of praise for the county staff having to bridge such geographic and political diversity. She’s already been back to a variety of places around the district and is scheduling community meetings. “What I’m hearing in these meetings is what I heard in the campaign,” she says – concerns related to her signature issues. But economic challenges are a major concern, and she says she’s talking with businesses and workers about how to support what they’re doing. The county itself is facing a budget crunch, which Mosqueda points out could shut down public-health clinics on which tens of thousands of people rely for health care, she says, so she’s been lobbying for state action that would enable a tax-collecting boost by the county (but this Seattle Times story the day after our chat suggests it’s not happening), and talking to the feds too.

Also on the topic of health, she’s been elected as chair of the Seattle-King County Board of Health, and says a current priority is addressing the “shadow pandemic – isolation, depression, behavioral health, substance-use issues.” She also chairs the council’s Health and Human Services Committee. One major task ahead is the implementation plan for the Crisis Care Centers Levy that voters approved last year, meant to combat the lack of places to take people to get the care they need. Before the brick-and-mortar facilities are opened, she said, there’ll be a “mobile response.” The levy also funds “workforce training … so that [more] people are able to provide services” early on. She says the implementation plan should be complete by the end of the second quarter.

On housing, a major topic we tackled was the King County Comprehensive Plan update, which is currently before the council – “really important decisions that will be made for the unincorporated areas … more walkable, livable neighborhoods,” Mosqueda summarized it. She says it could lead to more affordability and, just to pick one unincorporated area of note, a “new vision” for downtown White Center; she recounted a conversation with a local doctor who hopes that’s what will happen. She says the review of the comprehensive plan has just begun, so she’s joining at an opportune time. She hopes to hear from community members about their thoughts about the next 10 years, too (the period the plan update is to cover).

We asked about displacement risk, given higher rents in the new buildings that replace old ones. Mosqueda says that she is wants to ensure anti-displacement action, with strategies including community preference and affirmative marketing. That means the people who have to leave get first preference for returning to the new buildings – and that they’ll be able to afford to. That requires more incentives for developers, though, she says – including more height – so she hopes the comprehensive plan will include that.

What’s her concept of “affordable housing”? Market rate plus affordable units on the same site will be a crucial mix. And community-focused services like child care on the ground floor would be optimal.

So where has this concept already become reality? we asked. She mentioned a Seattle project at 13th/Fir on a site that once held a parking lot. (Read more about it here.)

We also talked about dealing with the many jurisdictions that the county spans – many cities and neighborhoods. Mosqueda says they have to offer help and support as an “ally, partner, maybe even a co-conspirator.”

On the subject of public safety and criminal justice, we asked Mosqueda about King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s recent reiteration that he still wants to move toward eliminating youth incarceration, though it will take longer to get there than he had previously hoped. His update also included an advisory committee’s recommendations, such as a “respite center” and community “care homes” for some juvenile defendants. Mosqueda told us, “I am interested in seeing that kiddos have a place to go so they can get stabilized and back into society. … If folks are going to interact more with law enforcement, we have to have an array of services we can offer those youths … Ultimately working toward the timeline (Constantine) laid out is the right thing to do.” But what about the current wave of violent crime involving youth? Mosqueda says looking at the underlying issues is important too.

The county administers other major parts of the criminal-justice system – courts, prosecutors and defenders, sheriff, etc. – so we asked if anything else is bubbling up in that area right now. She mentioned a recent “joint meeting to reconvene the Gun Violence Task Force” with jurisdictions including King County and Seattle, and noted legislators working on that. Anything specific she is proposing? Mosqueda responded that “listening to the youth directly” is her focus, and some with whom she’s met already are particularly interested in mental-health services.

Concluding our conversation, we asked how best constituents can interact with her and her staff. She says they’re going out for tours and meetings on “District 8 Days,” with Vashon her first stop and White Center next. She’s also involved in roundtable discussions and responding to constituents’ individual meeting requests – email her directly at teresa.mosqueda@kingcounty.gov. To find out what’s happening at County Council meetings, check agendas here.

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Public Health closes two White Center establishments

February 7th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Health, White Center news No Comments »

From a bulletin just sent by Public Health – Seattle & King County – two food establishments in White Center closed by inspectors:

Tacos de Canasta at 10426 16th Ave SW
Closed: February 6, 2024 at 1 pm
Reasons:
Unpermitted food vendor
Status: Closed

La Tipica Oaxaqueña at 1601 SW Roxbury St
Closed: February 6, 2024 at 6 pm
Reasons:
Imminent health hazard: Rodent infestation
Operating in an unapproved manner with insufficient equipment
Prohibited live animals present
Status: Closed

You can check here to see if they’ve been cleared to reopen.

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King County Local Services director moves to Department of Natural Resources and Parks

February 6th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

A new job just announced for the King County department director with whom unincorporated North Highline has dealt the most in recent years, John Taylor of Local Services. Here’s the announcement:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today appointed John Taylor as the new director for the Department of Natural Resource and Parks, selecting a proven leader to reinforce King County’s reputation as a trusted environmental steward and manage one of the largest metropolitan natural resource agencies in the country.

Taylor has served as the inaugural director for the King County Department of Local Services since 2018, when Executive Constantine established the agency to better serve the nearly 250,000 residents who live in unincorporated communities. He previously served as a member of the leadership team at the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, where he led a landmark accord signed by Executive Constantine that has restored salmon habitat, strengthened the local agricultural economy, and reduced flood risks.

“John brings the strengths and talent we need to build on King County’s reputation as a trusted environmental steward: Outstanding leadership skills, a lifelong commitment to protecting and restoring the natural environment, and the proven ability to produce lasting, measurable results for all living things that make King County home,” said Executive Constantine. “He will succeed as he has for five years as a highly effective member of my Cabinet, by upholding our values to create a more resilient, sustainable, equitable King County for this generation and for all those who will come after us.”

“I am grateful and excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead one of the nation’s premier natural resource agencies, one that has the talent and expertise needed to achieve ambitious goals,” said Taylor. “Executive Constantine has provided clear direction that he wants to build on the momentum King County has made in recent years to produce better results faster for people, salmon, and orcas, and that’s what we will accomplish with our employees and partners.”

Taylor will lead an agency that manages a large portfolio of services and initiatives that protect and restore the region’s natural environment, including climate action, land conservation, protecting water quality, restoring habitat, reducing waste, and promoting equitable access to parks and trails.

Taylor has already contributed to successes on several environmental initiatives created by Executive Constantine, including Clean Water Healthy Habitat by directing King County Road Services to help restore access to high-quality salmon habitat. He also helped create the framework for the Land Conservation Initiative, a partnership to protect the last, best 65,000 acres of open space within a single generation.

He will lead a workforce of 2,000 employees and manage the largest capital portfolio of any King County government agency. Executive Constantine recently toured the department’s new award-winning treatment station in Georgetown that was built to withstand climate impacts to better protect the Duwamish River and Puget Sound for the next century.

=The Wastewater Treatment Division is building and modernizing infrastructure that can withstand climate impacts to continue protecting Puget Sound for the next century

=The Water and Land Resources Division is restoring habitat and reducing flood risks throughout King County

-The Solid Waste Division is designing and building new recycling and transfer stations in the south and northeast areas of King County

-King County Parks is enhancing parks and trails throughout the region, promoting equitable access to places where communities connect

The Department of Natural Resources and Parks is contributing to King County Climate Office initiatives to prepare the region for increased risks to wildfire, extreme heat, and flooding

-The Department of Natural Resources and Parks leads Executive Constantine’s Local Food Initiative, making access to healthy, homegrown food more equitable

Taylor’s previous role at the department was deputy director for the Water and Land Resources Division, which has completed major restoration projects over the past several years. Recent successes include transforming dilapidated buildings along the Duwamish River into healthy habitat and much-needed greenspace for the nearby community, and simultaneously improving habitat and reducing flood risks along the Cedar River and Green River.

Taylor’s leadership team will implement Re+, the initiative Executive Constantine launched a year ago to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing waste and transitioning to a sustainable, circular economy. The department will also contribute to the King County Climate Office’s initiatives to better prepare communities for increased flood risks, extreme heat, and wildfire risks.

King County Parks – one of the department’s four divisions – will continue to expand and enhance its facilities and programs under Taylor’s leadership. In addition to making parks safer, more accessible, and more inclusive, the agency recently completed King County’s contribution to a 44-mile trail corridor that connects Golden Gardens Park in Ballard to Eastside cities and the Cascade foothills. This summer, King County Parks will complete a 500-foot-long trail bridge that connects Eastrail to Sound Transit’s Wilburton Station in Bellevue.

Taylor succeeded on multiple fronts as the first director for the Department of Local Services, producing measurable results that advance King County’s commitment to equity and racial justice.

He is credited with establishing the highly successful participatory budget process that creates opportunities for residents to decide how public funds are invested in their communities His leadership team also established the Community Needs List Program that gives residents in unincorporated areas a voice in King County’s budget process.

He has 20 years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, contributing to Vermont’s first Smart Growth legislation, Seattle’s Restore Our Waters Initiative, and establishing the Puget Sound Partnership. He previously served as a strategic advisor to the director of Seattle Public Utilities, legislative analyst for the Seattle City Council, and senior policy advisor to the governor of Vermont.

Taylor will begin serving as director of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks on Feb. 12. He will replace Christie True, who is retiring after a 39-year career at the agency, including 13 years as department director. Mo McBroom will continue to serve as the department’s deputy director, strengthening partnerships to produce results for climate action, equity and racial justice, land conservation, and resource recovery.

Taylor’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the King County Council. The Executive Office will begin recruiting for a new director for the Department of Local Services.

We’ll be following up for more on that search and who will run Local Services in the meantime.

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Memorial gathering February 17 for Tom Slattery, 1949-2024

February 4th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Obituaries, White Center news 1 Comment »

Family and friends will gather February 17 to celebrate the life of White Center resident Tom Slattery, and are sharing this remembrance with his community:

Tom Slattery, 74, died the morning of January 22, 2024, surrounded by family, following a courageous battle against lung disease.

For his children, grandchildren and community, Tom leaves a legacy of advocacy for children, education, racial justice, and nature preservation.

Tom was born December 4, 1949, to Joseph and Helen Slattery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He grew up an active and curious kid in Columbus, Ohio developing an early love for books and cars. Tom attended and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1971 with a degree in education.

Following college, Tom moved to San Francisco, California. In San Francisco, Tom would meet his wife and best friend, Pat Reh, and they would welcome two of their three sons, Rob and Reed. Dale would arrive after the family settled in Washington state.

Tom enjoyed sharing music with others nearly as much as he enjoyed listening to it himself. Nothing would make him happier than turning someone on to a new favorite song or artist. He also had a gift with words and could easily evoke laughter through his quick wit and clever turn of phrase.

Throughout his adult life, Tom was never far from a camera. The result is literal volumes of photos of his family, friends, places he traveled, cars he admired, plants and birds. Oh so many photos of birds. He loved the minute details that differentiated them and the wide range of colors displayed on their feathers. He also felt this way about his four grandchildren that continuously delighted him and kept him young.

Tom spent the second half of his life in White Center with a backyard that yielded the many vegetables he would grow, sanctuary for the many birds he would photograph, and a place for his children and grandchildren to gather and play. It was in White Center that his commitment to community, specifically to the safety and wellbeing of children, would take root and grow. He served 16 years on the Highline School Board and worked for several non-profits toward these ends.

In retirement, he turned those countless photographs into books that he would gift to family and friends. He would spend hours building intricate and different birdhouses he would display throughout the house. Together with his wife Pat, there were numerous trips to places such as Costa Rica, Belize, Palm Springs, San Miguel de Allende, and a final trip taken in the fall of 2023 on a riverboat cruise north on the Mississippi River, surely evoking the tales of his beloved author, Mark Twain.

Tom is survived by his wife Pat; his sons Rob (Marissa), Reed (Roxanne), and Dale (Jean); his grandsons Isaiah, Marcos, and Lucas; his granddaughter Izzy; and his brothers Bill, Ed, and Joe. He was preceded in death by his parents and many dear friends.

A memorial gathering is scheduled for Saturday, February 17, at 3:00 p.m. at Mount View Elementary School. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in his honor to Kubota Garden Foundation.

(We publish obituaries and memorial announcements by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to westseattleblog@gmail.com)

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Here’s what happened at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2024 meeting

February 1st, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Moments ago, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council wrapped up its first meeting of 2024, facilitated by NHUAC’s Liz Giba.

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM: For the third consecutive meeting, NHUAC had guests from KCLS. This time, trustee Verna Seal, who just joined the KCLS board last year, was first up. (She spent more than a decade and a half on the Tukwila City Council, until 2021.) “I love libraries .. so when this opportunity came up, I saw it as a way to give back,” she said, explaining that the board deals with policy, not operations. She’s one of just two people on the board who are from South King County. She invited questions; Giba asked, “How much money is the board in control of and how is it determined how much goes to each area?” Seal didn’t have specifics but said the system’s budget is $100 million-plus. They get a proposed budget and then review it, ask questions, etc., before eventually voting to approve a final budget (she noted you can see it online). Regional manager Mary Sue Houser added that the board meets at 5 pm on the last Wednesday of each month and anyone can attend online or in person (in Issaquah).

NHUAC’s Pat Price, who’s on the White Center Library Guild, said they’d love to see the board out here. Houser said that once the schedule and locations are finalized – maybe not until the new executive director Heidi Daniel is on board (she starts March 11) – they’ll make sure everyone knows.

Houser talked about programming for kids – including 10:30 am Thursday story times – and a LEGO Block Party at 3 pm February 16. (Check the library website for event listings.) Tax season just started – only 10 returns done so far but Houser said they’ve already found $15,000 in refunds for patrons.

Seal said that while she’s just one board member and can’t directly order changes – like “more hours, everybody wants more hours” – she can advocate, and ensure that issues are discussed. You can contact her and the rest of the board by email (find the address here).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin announced that King County Parks has volunteer opportunities – including work this Saturday at Dick Thurnau Park and other upcoming events at Glendale Forest and North Shorewood Park, all 9 am-noon work parties. (Find out more about the events, and how to volunteer, by going here.)

KING COUNTY CODE ENFORCEMENT: Tom Campbell, code-enforcement officer with the county Department of Local Services’ Permitting Division, was invited to talk about a couple White Center-area cases. First one, a residential property on 19th SW, where an “inoperable vehicle filled with garbage … had been there for a long time.” The occupants had “bagged the garbage and moved it to their driveway,” he said, but they decided what more they could do via the abatement process. They found the owner, he said, and “she agreed to remove the garbage within one week.” They gave her vouchers so she could take it to the transfer station. As for the inoperable vehicle, the owners plan to have it taken to a scrapyard and will move a vehicle that still works into its place on a gravel pad. “So that should get it cleaned up,” he said, noting that the trash had become an issue for neighbors because it was attracting rats. He explained that they have authority to do “abatement” on this kind of situation and to place a lien on the property to recover costs – but that requires court action, and can “take a fairly lengthy period of time,” so they tried instead to locate the owner first, and were successful via an online search. If she doesn’t keep her commitment, then they can pursue court action, Campbell explained.

He said NHUAC also had asked about the outdoor music from Tim’s Tavern, a frequent topic at meetings last year, with nearby residents hearing it inside their homes. “An outdoor performance center is not allowed in (this kind of) business zone,” he said, so they’ve pursued a code violation there, and also the fact the outdoor seating was constructed without a building permit. “There may also be an occupant load issue,” he said. “We do have an active enforcement case there,” just opened last week, and they’ll be following up. Today they sent a violation letter to Tim’s, he said, and the only way to resolve it is to “stop the activity, stop the use as an outdoor performance center.” If they don’t comply, but appeal it, there’ll be a hearing, and if the violation stands, there would be a compounding daily fine for however long the violation continues. Beyond that, Campbell said, eventually the county could seek “injunctive relief.”

Campbell was also asked about the stripped vehicles and trash at 2831 SW Roxbury, the former Roxbury Auto Parts (which has a sale pending, according to its online listing); he promised to look into it.

With situations like 19th SW, he was asked, what can be done about repeat violations? Campbell said they’re working with the King County Council to review policies that tend to drag these things out. He said people should be aware that code enforcement is funded by the county General Fund and that’s facing a budget crunch, so money woes may affect this kind of work. “We’ve had a position taken away, so we’re down some staff in code enforcement … one of the things we’re going to have to prioritize is the types of violations” that they pursue. Some smaller-level problems may not get immediate action, he warned – they may have to prioritize even more than they do now. They already have a large backlog of ‘very substantive code violations,” he said, that they’re working on.

The 19th SW situation might not have been prioritized if not for everything from the rats to the various people who contacted Permitting about it, Campbell said, including the County Executive’s Office.

Dobkin asked if other downtown White Center businesses also are supposed to not be allowed to have outdoor music; Campbell said he’s not certain about the boundaries of the “community business” district but anyone within it is prohibited from that use. Dobkin said there are rumors that other venues are planning it, with encouragement; Campbell said he’ll look into that too. Dobkin said, “I’m not trying to close a business …. but when it interferes with our life, that’s when it’s a problem.” The King County Sheriff’s Office had been dealing with the Tim’s situation previously, and storefront Det. Glen Brannon said he had lots of background to share with the Permitting Division.

Campbell then was told the Blu Grouse on 17th SW also is a concern, with outdoor music during good weather. Campbell said he’ll check into it, including whether the venue is in the district where this use would be banned.

How can businesses be educated that this is not an allowed use? King County’s Bong Santo Domingo, who’s also with Local Services, was asked, since he’s working with a new alliance involving local businesses. Campbell suggested that assembling and distributing a flyer with what’s not allowed and what is allowed in the business district might be a good idea.

Discussion then turned to concerns that special-event music also was running too loud and too long; longtime residents said they had never had a problem before the past year or so.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Then it was Det. Brannon’s turn. He elaborated on the ex-Roxbury Auto Parts building situation. He said the building was sold a year ago but it fell through (a plumbing company was going to move there); now another sale is pending, as we mentioned above, and he says his understanding that it’s going to be “some kind of car wash facility.” The owner doesn’t have the resources to tow the abandoned car(s) but they have been working to keep squatters out. Regarding the ex-Bartell Drugs building, which is owned by a California woman, it’s up for sale, he said, and it’s been burglarized and vandalized, so they’re trying to get it fenced. The “encampment on 13th” is still an issue, he said, and it’s being reviewed by King County higher-ups, though right now he says it’s only home to two full-time residents, with others coming and going. It might take two months “to get through all the bureaucracy it has to go through,” he cautioned. He talked about other sites he’s tracking, including one behind Little Caesar’s.

Brannon was asked about the much-reported regional enforcement inspections by Liquor Control Board agents and other law enforcers, which drew outcry because several venues were LGBTQ+. White Center’s Lumber Yard Bar was among them. Brannon wasn’t aware of the situation and the usual LCB rep wasn’t present. It was noted that reports also said Roxbury Lanes and Southgate Roller Rink had been visited as well. The regional reports mentioned Seattle Police and LCB involvement; why not KCSO? Brannon said LCB “has its own authority” and doesn’t require other law-enforcement approval or involvement, but he’ll look into it.

He received compliments for the department’s huge drug bust in Burien, and was asked about the most-recent freeway shooting; he said that largely was a State Patrol investigation, but said in general it’s related to gang activity – “young kids shooting each other.”

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER’S ASSISTANT: Chris Lampkin from new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda‘s office introduced himself and invited everyone to let their office know about issues of concern.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC usually meets the first Thursday of the month, 7 pm, online – watch nhuac.org for updates.

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Nearest driver-licensing office moving a few miles further away

February 1st, 2024 Tracy Posted in West Seattle, White Center news Comments Off on Nearest driver-licensing office moving a few miles further away

The state Department of Licensing is has announced the new location of its West Seattle driver-licensing office, and it’s not as close to White Center as the current one is. DOL is moving because its current location east of Westwood Village is slated for redevelopment. Today they announced the office is moving to 2420 SW Dakota, Suite 100 [map], adjacent to other state offices. A DOL spokesperson tells us, “Our last day at the current location will be on Saturday, February 24. We’ll open the new location on Friday, March 1.” Days and hours will be the same.

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First North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2024 set for Thursday

January 28th, 2024 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

When a new month begins on Thursday, a new year begins for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. Here’s the announcement of what’s planned for its first 2024 meeting:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, February 1, 2024, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:
us02web.zoom.us/j/83052224933?pwd=OWk1ZkNsRmF4NkJiWWlVWXJIY0g5UT09

Meeting ID: 830 5222 4933
Passcode: NHUAC2024 (case sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom?
Please call: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 830 5222 4933
Passcode: 665861784

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You are invited to join NHUAC’s first meeting of 2024 at 7 pm on Thursday, February 1st. NHUAC aims to keep you abreast of changes and in touch with the people who are making decisions that affect North Highline.

Last October, the King County Council appointed Verna Seal as one of seven Trustees of the King County Library System (KCLS). Trustee Seal is a former Tukwila City Council Member who retired after 16 years of service. She will join us on Thursday to discuss KCLS along with Mary Sue Houser, Olympic Regional Manager.

We will also be joined by Tom Campbell, who became Code Enforcement Manager for the Department of Local Services about one year ago. He will discuss the progress being made on some problem properties in our community and answer your questions.

Last, but certainly not least, Detective Glen Brannon, will make his first presentation of the year at Thursday’s NHUAC meeting.

This is your opportunity to share your concerns and thanks with Detective Glen Brannon, Code Enforcement Manager Tom Campbell, and Trustee Verna Seal. Don’t miss it!

Knowledge Is Power.

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

Thursday, February 1 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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ELECTION 2024: You can vote online right now for King Conservation District Supervisor

January 27th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

King County’s lowest-profile – but not lowest-impact – election is happening now. You might already have received the postcard inviting you to vote for a King Conservation District Supervisor position, which you can do online. Here’s the KCD announcement about what’s happening:

King Conservation District (KCD) is holding its annual Board of Supervisors Election. The election will use online ballot access for the 5th year. This is a mostly county-wide election that does not appear on the standard special elections ballot. The KCD Board of Supervisors oversees a roughly $8 million dollar budget paid by residents of King County through rates and charges.

KCD is a special-purpose district committed to helping people engage in stewardship and conservation of natural resources, serving over two million people in 34 cities and unincorporated King County (excluding the cities of Enumclaw, Federal Way, Milton, Pacific, and Skykomish that are not member jurisdictions). KCD assists private residents with forestry management, streamside and shoreline enhancement, farm conservation planning, and other environmental efforts. It works with cities and community organizations to support community gardens, urban forest canopy, and local food systems. KCD is funded primarily by a per-parcel rates and charges fee paid by residents of the district.

An all-volunteer, five-member Board of Supervisors is responsible for overseeing KCD operations, budget, and policy. Voters elect three supervisors and the Washington State Conservation Commission appoints two supervisors. Supervisors serve three-year terms.

Voting started this past Tuesday and continues through 8 pm February 13, with online ballot acccess at kingcd.org/elections for all King County registered voters (except residents within the city limits of the five cities mentioned above that are not member jurisdictions of the district).

The 2024 election has three candidates running for the position. Brittney Bush Bollay, Aaron Ellig, and Erik Goheen are competing for one seat. Candidate statements can be found at kingcd.org/elections.

For the fifth year, the King Conservation District election will primarily rely on electronic ballot access. Voters may return ballots electronically through the online ballot access system or reach out to KCD for assistance. Democracy Live operates the online ballot access portal and King County Elections will tabulate all ballots and report all results. To increase awareness of the election, for the fourth year, KCD has mailed out roughly 750,000 postcards to registered voter households in the district with information on how to vote in the board election.

For more information and to cast your ballot, visit kingcd.org

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VIDEO: Rep Pramila Jayapal’s nearby town hall

January 26th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: Rep Pramila Jayapal’s nearby town hall

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(WSB photos, video)

Our area’s U.S. House Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a West Seattle resident when not in D.C., held a town hall meeting Wednesday night in her home neighborhood. She and her constituents brought up a wide range of issues, from the Israel/Hamas war to college costs to health care to UAPs (aka UFOs).

Rep. Jayapal said the community meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy was one of more than 100 town halls she’s had since taking office seven years ago. “We may not agree … but whatever it is, I want to talk about it.” We recorded the town hall in two parts – first, her half-hour introductory remarks:

If you don’t have time to watch, here are our notes:

She said “funding for community-based projects” is part of the job – and that she has helped secure $50 million, with $17 million to come “as soon as we pass the government funding (legislation).” She mentioned food-bank funding and emergency housing as some of what that money goes toward. Other funding on which she’s worked included something showcased at a port event earlier in the day, %18 million toward truck electrification.

If you are associated with a nonprofit, she said, her office can help you look for federal grant money. And for individuals, they can help you navigate federal agencies. “Our job is to try to help you navigate what is sometimes just crazy bureaucracy,” or inaccessibility. They won’t necessarily be able to solve every problem for you but they can at least help you get an answer. This includes Social Security, Medicare, and immigration issues, she added. She hailed her staff’s tenacity in pursuing solutions for constituents. Specifically, she said, she’s hearing from constituents who have felt strong-armed into Medicare Advantage plans – or are having a tough time getting back onto traditional Medicare. She says she’s been pushing to get the federal government to crack down on Medicare Advantage-related fraud – she thinks those offerings shouldn’t even have Medicare in their name.

On other matters, she said this has been the least productive Congress ever – barely 20 bills passed by both houses and signed into law in 2023. Funding to keep the government running is usually finalized by year’s end, but isn’t yet – “this is the craziness we’re dealing with, we still have not funded the government.”

She accused the House’s Republican majority of holding the funding “hostage to their extreme ideas.” She says that includes solving the “broken” immigration system, but contends that the Republicans don’t want to do anything so the border mess will remain an election issue. She said immigration worked well decades ago when arrivals were allowed to work right away, and instead now they’re hung up in bureaucracy. Right now, Ukraine aid and border policies are all tangled up, she said. She also said they’re working to restore the child-tax credit to help lift families out of poverty, but that too is tied up with other matters.

She also mentioned the Foreign Intelligence Act, “protecting privacy,” with a bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee but still stuck on its way to get to the door. And the farm bill is awaiting reauthorization. She also said she will “not stop fighting” for abortion rights and gender-care rights, noting that she herself has had an abortion and is “proud mom of a trans daughter.” She moved from there to drug-cost issues, including capping insulin prices. Other issues she touched on: Some student-loan debt cancellation (see her website), infrastructure, tax-code changes, climate, antitrust enforcement. Also: “I know it isn’t enough and we have a lot more to do …” like ending the Senate’s filibuster rules. “You can’t just change the rulers, you’ve gotta change the rules.”

Then she got to the most intense current issue: “The terrible attack by Hamas on Israel, and Israel’s horrific war in Gaza, that’s happening right now.” She said she’s been calling for a ceasefire “to get to safety and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. … Military action does not get us to where we need to go.” A ceasefire would mean more hostages could be released and “innocent civilians” won’t be killed, whether Palestinian or Israeli – “we have to see them as the same, they are the same.” She contended that Israel’s war on Hamas is only radicalizing more people. “We have to be thinking how we get to a durable peace in the Middle East,” where Israelis and Palestinians “live side by side.” She said she’s met with families “of dozens of hostages” … “I will continue to hold space for all the pain is out there … we have to get to peace … more military action only gets us more military action.” She was soundly applauded. In segueing to Q/A, she declared, “I’m fighting for freedom, for families, for faith” – not just religious faith, but “faith in our democracy,” the nation where she arrived at age 16.

From there, it was on to Q/A, which lasted almost an hour; the Israel/Hamas war was the most frequently mentioned issue, but far from the only one. Here’s the video, followed by our toplines:

First speaker in our video thanked Jayapal for her position on Gaza “and for also mentioning Ukraine,” for which the commenter advocated continuing aid, then asked, “How do we get more money (for Ukraine)?” Rep. Jayapal replied that it’s “tough” because “aid to Ukraine is something that Republicans say they’re not voting for.” She said she will have a tough time for voting for it if it’s “tied to bad border conditions” or a certain level of Israel military aid.

Second speaker wanted to talk about Alzheimer’s disease and thanked Jayapal for supporting a “national plan.” Jayapal promised to continue advocacy and support for resources.

Third speaker was 11-year-old Maya. “I was wondering why there was a lot of older people here,” which drew laughter. “My dad was saying it’s because younger people are not as interested in politics these days, and I was wondering what can be done about that.” Big applause. Rep. Jayapal said, “We need you!” – to talk to her friends and make sure they understand that decisions being made now will affect them for many years.

Fourth speaker said he’s been following news about UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, formerly UFOs). He said he didn’t know if they’re real but if they’re not, a lot of government money is being wasted on them, so he wanted her support for those trying to find out the truth. She recapped the July 2023 hearing, legislation that’s been proposed, and she said she supports protections for whistleblowers, which could be important in getting to the truth.

Fifth speaker read from a statement that related to the “war on terror” and watch lists; Rep. Jayapal asked her to contact her staff so they could help her offline.

Sixth speaker voiced a concern about health care, as an entrepreneur having a difficult time finding an affordable health-care option. Rep. Jayapal said she’s been fighting for universal health care “because one of the places that gets most screwed in our current system is small businesses.” She acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act was “good for a lot of people” but not everyone – those who are paying overpriced premiums for high-deductible policies are subsidizing private companies’ profits. She said “I don’t have an answer for you” but “we’re working on it.”

Seventh speaker identified herself as an immigration attorney who works with children and asked where things stand and whether there’s “any hope of an asylum system.” Jayapal said the status of what’s been negotiated is “unclear” on some things; regarding asylum, there is money in a pending bill to hire more people to help, but it’s not clear right now that the bill is going to go anywhere.

Eighth speaker brought up the “upcoming election” and voiced various fears – from the current administration’s support for the Mideast fighting to the Republicans’ attacks on the trans community, of which they said they are a member – “my tax dollars are going to this genocide.” Jayapal said she’s doing what she can; that was countered with, “You’re doing the bare minimum.” She countered that she’s one of few voices in Congress for a ceasefire.

Ninth speaker said that President Biden is losing support with young people because of the action in Gaza and said he should stop sending weapons and “accomplish a peace agreement” if he wants to regain that support.

Tenth speaker asked what’s the best way to communicate with politicians, especially those who don’t share the same views. And she wanted to know what Rep. Jayapal thinks about the “criminalization of homelessness.” The reply was that she doesn’t believe that can be allowed to happen – “we need to build more housing, invest in more housing … long-term supportive housing …” Regarding the first question, she said research helps, as does “organizing people in (other members’) districts” to speak to an issue of disagreement.

Eleventh speaker said she works at Neighborhood House. She said more assistance is needed for low-income families – people line up hours in advance – and “the price of groceries is so, so high.” Specifically, she advocated for supplemental funding to help with food. Rep. Jayapal said that was “never (before) a partisan thing” – yet now it is – “there are so many hungry people in our country.

Twelfth speaker was concerned about politicians who seem to have jobs for life. Rep. Jayapal said she agrees that term limits are important – like limits on how long you can hold positions leading committees.

Thirteenth speaker asked about the congresswoman’s “commitment to student-debt relief.” She said she’s fought for it before and is fighting for more, as well as backing a “College for All” bill that she says would make college tuition-free for everyone.

Fourteenth speaker asked about universal health care and wondered why the US has to “reinvent the wheel” instead of having a system like the EU. Rep. Jayapal said “it’s very hard to dismantle” the current system of private companies and private insurers when they have so many lobbyists. “Every time we try to move in this direction we get this massive pushback … I share your frustration.” She said that while it’s seen as a “far left” position here, it would be seen as “centrist” elsewhere in the world; the only way to change that, she said, is to “build a big movement” to force change.

Fifteenth speaker asked about walking and biking safety. “Local action can’t fix a nationwide issue,” she said, noting the preponderance of large SUVs, for example. Rep. Jayapal said some federal “Safe Streets” money was indeed allotted to Seattle, and said she’s cosponsoring a national commitment to zero fatalities by 2050. She said she also has signed a letter to the USDOT supporting walking/biking safety as criteria for grants.

Sixteenth speaker said he has voted Democrat for 40 years but is going to have a hard time voting for President Biden because of the current Mideast fighting. He asked Jayapal to convince him why he should. She said she can’t “make a moral argument about what America is doing in Gaza” and that she doesn’t agree with everything the president does but “we are in a space right now where the threats against our democracy are so real … if you think what’s happening now in Gaza is horrific, imagine what’s going to happen when Donald Trump gets into the White House. … Don’t step away from democracy.”

Seventeenth speaker said “our government’s a little too male, pale, and stale.” She then asked how much money and weapons the U.S. has provided to Israel, and said she’s disgusted about what’s happening in Gaza. She also complained about a particular political action committee that Jayapal described as “dark money.”

Eighteenth speaker (first joking that he’s a “pale male” but “not stale.”) said that with crime in Seattle, a lot of people are “buying weapons, and I’m concerned about that.” Then he segued into concern about college costs

Nineteenth speaker wanted to know how Rep. Jayapal would “fight for a free Palestine even after a ceasefire.”

Twentieth speaker, identifying himself as a naturalized American, wanted to know what she’s doing about “moving country-of-origin quotas.”

Twenty-first and final speaker had a letter to submit for her signature – she asked that it be provided to her staff.

Rep. Jayapal then delivered some quick answers to the final questions. For public safety, she said services are needed as well as gun-law reform. Regarding college costs, state and federal aid used to cover 70 percent of the cost – now they cover 30 percent, as the federal government has disinvested in education, so correcting that is important. Regarding Palestine, she said she agrees it’s troubling that there’s no discussion of the lasting peace, of a two-state solution, everything is focused on the military situation right now. Regarding the immigration question, she said things are rather convoluted right now – per-country caps are disproportionate – “these are really big issues” that are part of the immigration-reform proposal.

And after an hour and a half, she wrapped up, offering words of thanks (and photo ops).

CONTACTING REP. JAYAPAL: Contact info for her Seattle and D.C. offices is here; getting help with a federal agency, as she discussed, is addressed here.

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WEATHER: Highline Public Schools on two-hour delay

January 17th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Schools, Weather, White Center news Comments Off on WEATHER: Highline Public Schools on two-hour delay

From Highline Public Schools:

Due to weather and road conditions, all schools are on a two-hour delay. Buses will stop at regular stops–two hours later than normal.

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HEALTH: Free vaccination clinic today in Greenbridge

January 16th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Greenbridge, Health, White Center news 1 Comment »

Announced by the YWCA:

Don’t let the flu or COVID-19 ruin the start of your year!

Stop by the Winter vaccine clinic at YWCA’s Greenbridge Learning Center on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM and get vaccinated to help keep yourself and others safe.

Vaccines are available for adults and children
No healthcare insurance is required.
Vaccines available regardless of immigration status.
Vaccines are absolutely FREE!

All vaccinations will be administered by King County Public Health.
YWCA Greenbridge Learning Center
9720 8th Ave. SW

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Our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda introduces her team

January 12th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

(From left: Chris Lampkin, Melanie Kray, Councilmember Mosqueda, Kamilah Brown, Erin House)

This week, Teresa Mosqueda took office as District 8’s King County Councilmember. Today we received this photo and announcement introducing her team:

King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda on Tuesday announced her staff at her historic swearing-in Tuesday, bringing together an all-star team to do the vital work of District 8.

“I can’t serve the district all by myself – I’m incredibly excited for my new staff joining me at the County,” Mosqueda said. “I’ve got a great team here who are all veterans to working in the political realm, but each bringing a different wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit everyone in District 8 and across King County.”

Mosqueda brought over Erin House to serve as her Chief of Staff. House, who served as Mosqueda’s Chief of Staff at the Seattle City Council, will manage the office and policy work as well as focus on housing and homelessness, transportation, energy and land use and the environment. House previously served as a Strategic Initiatives Advisor at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, where she worked on major citywide and long-range initiatives, including Link light rail expansion and community planning projects. She also served as Coalition and Outreach Manager for Seattle for Everyone, where she worked with a broad coalition to advance the first-ever comprehensive package of affordable housing policies in Seattle, and worked with Futurewise, a statewide growth management and civic planning organization, on projects promoting equitable and environmentally sound housing, transportation, land use, and environmental policies./

Chris Lampkin will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff, staffing community relations and communications, as well as working on policy related to labor and business, human services, Crisis Care Levy implementation, Harborview Medical Center, and community relations. Lampkin most recently served as the Political Director for SEIU Healthcare 1199NW where he worked to empower over 33,000 Registered Nurses, Healthcare and Behavioral Health workers of the union to grow their voice and lift standards for the communities.

Mosqueda brought a familiar face back to Council with Kamilah Brown as Director of Office Operations and Special Projects. Brown previously worked in the office of King County Councilmember Larry Gossett before going on to serve as Policy Director to [now former]Seattle City Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis over the last four years. Brown will focus on public health, constituent services, scheduling and special projects.

Rounding out her staff is Melanie Kray, Public Policy Director for District 8. Kray comes over from Mosqueda’s team at the Seattle City Council. She will focus on public safety, homelessness, utilities, immigration and arts and culture. Kray has her law degree from the University of Washington and served as the Rule 9 legal intern for UW Law’s Race and Justice Clinic, helping to manage cases in various stages of post-conviction proceedings.

Click here to watch a short video, and learn more about Mosqueda’s team here, including full bios and other staff information.

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WHITE CENTER WEATHER: Low temps, low chance of serious snow

January 11th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Weather, White Center news Comments Off on WHITE CENTER WEATHER: Low temps, low chance of serious snow

Thanks to Gill Loring for sending the snowy scene from outside his house. That’s probably about all we’ll see, according to the newest forecast – those mega-cold temperatures are still expected, but serious snow is not. Daytime highs in the 20s and nighttime lows in the teens, so be careful, stay warm, keep pets inside, and by the end of the holiday weekend, temperatures will be rising again.

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Swearing-in day for our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

January 9th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Swearing-in day for our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

(Photo courtesy King County Council)

Teresa Mosqueda‘s move from the Seattle City Council to the King County Council is complete with today’s swearing-in ceremony at the county council’s first meeting of the year. Administering the oath of office in the council chambers downtown was Councilmember Mosqueda’s husband, Manuel Valdes. Mosqueda was one of two newly elected councilmembers sworn in today, along with Jorge Barón; they are making history as the first Latina/o members elected to the county council. Mosqueda, who succeeds Joe McDermott in representing District 8 (including White Center, West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands, and Burien), will chair two committees – here’s the announcement:

The King County Council on Tuesday voted for Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda to chair two key committees in her first year on the council. Mosqueda will serve as Chair of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee and the Regional Transit Committee.

“I’m thrilled to be chairing the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee,” Mosqueda said. “My biggest priority as a King County Councilmember is to improve the health of our residents, and as Chair of HHS we get the chance to focus on those priorities with urgency. The committee will have purview over the Crisis Care Levy implementation so that families will know where to turn if their loved ones are struggling and need help, and first responders will have a place to bring people in need. Critically, this committee has preview over affordable housing, which I will continue to champion with an emphasis on serving communities most at risk of displacement creating more affordable housing, and investing in the workforce serving our most vulnerable to keep people housed.”

The HHS committee’s jurisdiction includes health services provided to the community by county agencies and branches; public health programs, including those related to the protection, promotion, and provision functions of the department of public health and the structure of the public health centers; and human services programs, including review of human services-related levies.

Mosqueda, who was sworn in to represent District 8 on Tuesday, will also serve as Vice Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, and will sit as a member of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee, the Local Services and Land Use Committee, and the Employment and Administration Committee.

“I’m also very excited to be Vice Chair of Councilmember Dembowski’s Transportation, Economy and Environment committee,” Mosqueda added. “These are huge issues for District 8 and the entire county – from supporting the vitality of small businesses and workers, to addressing the transportation and growing environmental crises of folks across our region. Investments in economic stability, climate justice, and accessible transit all create healthier communities and thriving local economics. I’m thrilled to get to work on these priorities with my colleagues and community.”

Tuesday marked a historic moment in the history of the King County Council as Mosqueda and Jorge L. Barón – who was sworn in for District 4 – mark the first Latinos to serve on the Council. With a growing population of people of color and immigrants and refugees in King County, this marks a significant moment for representative democracy, especially given the diversity and largest ethnic population in District 8.

Full committee assignments will be posted here this week.

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WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Rainbow Mini-Mart robbed

January 8th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Rainbow Mini-Mart robbed

Via an FYI bulletin on Seattle Police radio, we’ve just heard that King County Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating a holdup at Rainbow Mini-Mart (11454 16th SW). The bulletin says two Hispanic men in their 20s or 30s, both wearing black masks and dark clothing, held up the store at gunpoint. No further details.

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Roxbury Safeway to start closing earlier

January 7th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center news 2 Comments »

We’ve learned that three local Safeway stores, including the one just west of White Center on SW Roxbury, will start closing an hour earlier as of this Wednesday (January 10). The other two are in West Seattle. Regional spokesperson Sara Osborne explains, “Almost all our stores in City of Seattle close at midnight or 11 pm once those three are included. The decision was made out of concern for the safety of our associates and customers because we are experiencing a significant increase of violent incidents and major theft, especially at late hours.” The Safeway at 1st and 148th in Burien already closes at midnight.

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