On the Docket: Drought and Water Rates

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

SBView.com: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

Today at their weekly meeting, the Santa Barbara City Council will talk drought along with proposed changes to local water rates. According to the Agenda, “while the Santa Barbara area has had some recent rainstorms, the rainfall has not been enough to end the area’s persistent drought condition. Extraordinary conservation to meet the 20% demand reduction is needed. Staff anticipates the need to declare a Stage Two Drought Condition in May 2014.” Continue Reading →

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Death on the American Riviera

Peter Lance Photo: Raymond Victor Morua III and Congresswoman Lois Capps.

Peter Lance Photo: Raymond Victor Morua III and Congresswoman Lois Capps.

Controversial journalist Peter Lance returned to the local scene on Sunday with an investigative report on “the Congresswoman, the Iraq war vet and the cover-up of a DUI scandal”.

Lance, who has most recently penned lengthy reports on Santa Barbara DUI police corruption, published PART ONE: Memories of Mallory in the Santa Barbara News-Press and online.

The first report suggests that former Lois Capps’ aide, Raymond Morua, who allegedly killed Mallory Rae Dies while drunk driving, was actually on the job 45 minutes before the fateful incident, working for Representative Capps. If so, the government could be responsible for Mr. Morua’s actions, click read PDF, Part I.

The second of this five part series, in Monday’s issue of the Santa Barbara news-Press, continues with the theme that Mr. Morua was working for the Congresswoman at the Independent’s holiday party and at a cigar bar after that on December 5, 2013, an issue critical to whether Mallory’s family can recover damages from the government.
Part Two: Everybody Loves Raymond, click to read PDF.

Update: Peter Lance was back at it Wednesday with his 2014 DUI Series PART THREE The “Hero” And The High Speed Chase, click to ready PDF. Today’s piece notes that Mr. Morua is expected to plead guilty to manslaughter which will likely bring a sentence of 15 years to life.  Lance writes about government officials who first sought to protect Raymond, but then rapidly distanced themselves from Morua. Lance also writes about the young man who tailed Morua after the accident. However, the important part of the story is that Mallory’s family has filed a claim for damages with House Speaker John Boehner. The legal position reportedly taken by Lois Capps’ office and the counsel for the US House of Representatives is that Raymond was out and about on his own volition that night and was not on the job. If that theory prevails, the Dies family will purportedly have little hope for proper legal compensation.

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Why a Ban on Fracking is Critical for the Climate

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High-intensity oil production could triple County greenhouse gas emissions.

No-fracking-logoWorld powers are running out of time to slash their use of high-polluting fossil fuels and stay below agreed limits on global warming. This is the conclusion of a draft U.N. study to be approved this week at a meeting of government officials and climate scientists in Berlin.

Santa Barbara County voters will likely have a chance to choose whether they want be a part of the solution or part of the problem. An organization called the Water Guardians is currently collecting signatures to qualify an initiative to ban fracking and other high-intensity petroleum production in Santa Barbara County for the November ballot. Whether this effort succeeds or fails will likely determine greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade in our County – a critical period during which we need to reduce emissions in order to head-off the worst impacts of climate change.

The Water Guardians Initiative proposes to ban high-intensity oil production: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted underground to break up the rock and extract oil; acidizing, which adds hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid to dissolve the rock to extract oil; and cyclic steam injection, which uses large amounts of water, steam and energy to heat the thick, heavy oil so it will flow more readily. There are many local environmental concerns with these techniques which can lead to air pollution and water contamination, and expansion of these techniques would also lead to large increases in greenhouse gas emissions in the County.

Unlike in other parts of the country where fracking for natural gas occurs which produces less carbon dioxide when burned than coal and oil, in California, the fracking of the Monterrey Shale is for oil with no potential climate benefit. Since the Monterey Shale formation that extends throughout California is potentially one of the largest shale oil reserves in the country, a ramp up in unconventional oil production would increase state emissions and hinder the state’s ability to take a lead in reducing emissions and transitioning to cleaner sources of energy.

In Santa Barbara County, one company alone (Santa Maria Energy) has 7,700 possible well locations. Using the same rate of emissions per well as their current well project, that works out to 4,971,029 tons of greenhouse gases per year. That is the equivalent of almost one million cars, and it is nearly three times the total current total Countywide emissions. That is just to extract the oil. It doesn’t include additional emissions from transporting, refining or burning that oil.

That is a staggering number. It means that Santa Barbara County could eliminate a hundred percent of its emissions — stop driving, get all our power from solar and wind, eliminate all agricultural emissions — and still triple emissions in the County just from this oil extraction.

Nor is Santa Maria Energy the only company making big investments in these carbon-intensive forms of oil production. One Chinese mining company, Beijing-based Goldleaf Jewelry Co, just invested $665 million and is ramping up production in North County. The Water Guardian’s Initiative would protect the air, water and environment that make the County a desirable place to work and live from these outside speculators.

Santa Barbara County should take a lead in rejecting the most polluting forms of oil production and transitioning to clean sources of energy. Of all the things we can do locally in regard to climate change, this would have the highest impact and is critically important at this time. The stakes could not be greater. Our actions now will determine the future liveability of the planet.

Dr. Catherine Gautier is professor emerita with the Geography Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was one of 21 climate scientists who signed a letter to Governor Jerry Brown calling for a halt to fracking and other unconventional well stimulation techniques in the state due to climate concerns. She is also co-author of a recent academic book on fracking and Shale gas extraction published in November 2013 by Odile Jocob, France.

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Walking Meditation

HEALTH TIPS, By Dr. Kathleen Boisen

Illustration by entera-theartist.com "I draw, paint or sculpt your ideas into form."

Illustration by entera-theartist.com

Recently a friend of mine told me she was going to Shanghai for 10 days to visit relatives, and that she was not looking forward to it. I asked her, “Why not, besides some pollution, it must be interesting.” She said, “There is a population of 24 million people, its suffocating, you can’t even imagine it.”

She’s right, I can’t imagine it. I’ve lived in Santa Barbara since 1982, the green space, fresh air and lower population is home to me. How do you even move around with 24 million people??

I wondered, how could you go for a gentle walking meditation in Shanghai? How lucky we are, Santa Barbara is a haven for this activity. and with today’s obligatory sedentary life, a walking meditation is a tremendously beneficial activity.

There are two different types of multitasking. One is not helpful, the other can be beneficial. The destructive one occurs for example with driving and texting, or driving and reading a book (a patient of mine actually saw this while on her commute from Ventura to Santa Barbara,) or talking on the phone, eating, checking e-mail and making dinner plans. Our brains are simply not designed for this and always only one activity gets the attention, the rest land in pure distraction.

The other type of multitasking that can be helpful, is movement with a mind distraction so that the relaxation goes deeper. For example, walking meditation, with your dog you can become a part of his observation. He walks, he stops, he sniffs, he is all observant. Your mind can follow this and discover there is time to stop and smell the roses, or the sage brush, the sky is a beautiful different blue, there are white puffy clouds, the air relaxes every stressful part of your day. In this mind set time can disappear and you have the benefit of both physical movement and a silent, relaxaing mind escape.
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Cypress Silhouette

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Cypress Silhouette
This is one of my favorite trees in the Santa Barbara area. A beautiful Cypress that hangs out over Butterfly Beach in Montecito. It always makes a beautiful frame for the lights of Santa Barbara in the distance. -Bill Heller

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Fire Razed Potter Hotel on April 13, 1921

On this date in Santa Barbara history the magnificent Potter Hotel was destroyed by a fire. Crowds watched in horror as flames quickly engulfed the Potter Hotel on April 13, 1921. The hotel opened on January 19, 1903 and cost over $1 million to build.

100+ guests were safely evacuated, but with winds gusting from fifty to eighty miles per hour, the fire spread quickly and burnt the hotel to the ground within three hours. Flying debris even set fire to Stearns Wharf and to the tall palms that line the boulevard along West Beach. Only few chimneys were left of what had been one of the finest hotels on the West Coast.

Faulty wiring was found to be the cause, although many historians suspect it was arson. Several attempts were purportedly made to burn down the hotel which had been heavily insured and was steadily losing money, and the fire department believed that all the fires they extinguished has been deliberately set. Although arson was suspected, it was never confirmed.
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Saturdays with Seibert: The Fog Returns

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

I guess summer is starting as the fog has returned. The Granada theater flags on State street were nicely back lit by the morning sun. While the massive, horn blowing, infection carrying, tourist depositing, wrecker of life as we know it cruise ship was barely visible offshore. This was Friday. – Dan

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EcoFacts: States of Dryness

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

No news here:  as we enter the dry season in California, we are coming from one. Our water supplies sure are not looking good.  If you look here you can see extreme and exceptional drought areas in California, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Currently half of the mainland U.S. is in drought, but fully 100% California is. All of its water supplies, snow pack, water from the Colorado river, and our local supplies, are down. Snow pack is about the lowest in a century, at less than 10% of normal levels.

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

Some small rural California communities may be running out of water in the next few months.

A piece in the San Jose Mercury highlights a database that shows per capita water use by region in the state. These range from South San Francisco at 76 gallons per day to Palm Springs at 736 gallons per day. Goleta is at 119 gallons per day and Santa Barbara is at 128! Hooray for us!

How much water do we residents use? You can look at your water bill. Our water is billed by the unit HCF – one hundred cubic feet –  which is equal to 748 gallons, about  25 gallons per day, per household. A shower without a low flow head uses a heck of a lot of water per minute, 4-7 gallons, so one shower could easily be more than a bath of 25-50 gallons.

Time for those Navy Showers! One could save 10 or 15,000 gallons per year by getting wet and turning off the shower to soap up and scrub. Sponge baths can work well too and then you don’t have to wipe down the tiles/glass/anything afterwards.

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Santa Barbara by Bicycle: Sunrise Surprise

Weekly bike column by Steve Cook

SB Sunrise

Pre-dawn view from Loma Alta Drive

My most enjoyable rides are early in the morning, when the air is cool and the birds are just waking up. Sunday, before sunrise I rode from the Westside towards the harbor by connecting with San Andres Street, then Loma Alta, then climbing towards Santa Barbara City College. As usual, my front and rear lights were turned on, and I wore highly visible and reflective gear. Taking the lane on the ride up Loma Alta, as the lanes are too narrow for passing, I stopped midway to take a photo, and talked with a fellow riding to work at a beach area diner, then rode on. Cresting the hill, bending left by Coronel Street and looking down through the canyon to the ocean, I was surprised to see a large cruise ship anchored off shore. At that point my ride plan changed and I signaled and turned left at the Cliff Drive traffic light, then turned right into the City College driveway. I thought, certainly, somewhere on campus there had to be a good place to take an overhead photo of the ship. As it turned out, the best shot was from the east end of campus near the gardens overlooking the harbor.

Cruise Ship off SBCC

Cruise Ship from SBCC vantage Point

Sunrise over Harbor

Sunrise above the Harbor, taken from SBCC Bluffs

With these photos taken, I dropped down the on-campus bike path towards Pershing Park, home of many an historical baseball game. I think my father-in-law, Frank Fujii, played there in 1939 as a member of the Gauchos baseball team. The Gauchos back then were with the SB State College which later became UCSB. For fun, the next time you find yourself in Harry’s Plaza Cafe, go in the back room and find the photo with the 1939 Gauchos basketball team and you’ll see him there wearing jersey #10 — he played multiple sports for SB State. From Pershing Park I walked across the crosswalk to the east bound lane of Cabrillo Blvd. Once again, taking the lane, I rode towards the Bird Refuge. I turned right by the cemetery, went up the hill, then on the Channel Drive bike path. Then turning up past the Biltmore, up Olive Mill Road and right at Danielson Road. Continuing on from there to South Jameson Lane, crossing the freeway, and right on North Jameson Lane. As you probably know, a stop sign was added a few years back at Hixon Road. It’s a good idea to make that stop, as with all other stop signs. There, you’ll often find a motorcycle officer there waiting to make your day. I continued on North Jameson until I turned right on Ortega Hill Road, then took the easy bike path to Summerland.

Back in the day, before this bike path was developed, we all made the climb up and over Ortega Hill, with a watchful eye and and ear for motorized vehicles. On the climb, cars were at times backed up while waiting for bikes to make the summit. Now, with the dedicated lane for bikes, it’s so much nicer and safer for everyone, day and night, to make the Summerland connection. This is a great example of the kind of infrastructure improvements that the SB Bicycle Coalition is collaborating on with Carpinteria, Goleta, Santa Barbara, the County of SB, and CalTrans to identify, prioritize and implement throughout our county with the Connecting Our Community Initiative. In fact, this Thursday night, April 10th, SB City College is hosting the SBBike monthly planning meeting to discuss bike capacity planning and routes in our neighborhoods. Given that there is a marked increase in the use of bikes for leisure, travel, commuting, school, and commerce, this meeting provides a great way to capture community ideas and input. Please join us at the meeting: RSVP with SBBike here. It will be great to have more paths like the Ortega Hill bike path connecting our community.
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Bicycling Blunders

Shame on locals who don’t read Steve Cook’s weekly Santa Barbara by Bicycle column, which promotes bike safety. Steve will share another adventure Friday.
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A Bird’s Eye View of Santa Barbara, California

The place to be for Earth Day… when it comes to celebrating all that’s green, Santa Barbara was voted by SaveOnEnergy.com as as Top Ten City to visit for Earth Day.

Recommended reading… Matt Mazza, the likeable Editor-in-Chief of the Santa Barbara Sentinel, has published a new book called Leaving It All Behind: One Family’s Search—a true travel tale told in real time about his family’s voyage around the world.

Huell Howser had a love for Santa Barbara… this Friday, Santa Barbara will plant a tree to honor the legacy of the gregarious television host. The ceremony will take place at the Santa Barbara Mission lawn, 2201 Laguna St. at noon, info@sbbeautiful.org.

This date in Santa Barbara County… W.W. Broughton published the first issue of the weekly Lompoc Record on April 10, 1875. Two weeks later, when the Lompoc dairy lands were sold at auction, the trustees of the Lompoc Valley Land Owners’ Association voted another $1,500 to assist Mr. Broughton in publishing his newspaper.

Speaking of local anniversaries… yesterday, Santa Barbara’s historic Granda Theatre celebrated 90 years since first opening its doors on April 9, 1924. You will see their black and gold flags flying over downtown Santa Barbara this week.

Santa Barbara celebrity Julia Louis-Dreyfus poses nude for Rolling Stone.

Today is the due date for the first installment of one’s property taxes… a day when Santa Barbara homeowners have to write absurdly large checks to Harry Hagen, county tax collector. The County website is up-to speed with credit card and electronic check payment options. You can also pay by phone, 1-866-308-8872.

Rusty’s lighthouse is closing… the seven other pizza locations remain. The lighthouse location was made famous by George Virginio Castagnola, who started as a Depression-era, door-to-door fish salesman, who then became synonymous with seafood in Santa Barbara via The Lobster House at 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
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Cruise Ship Brings More than Revenue

The eighth cruise ship of the spring season is bringing more than tourism dollars—it is bringing passengers who have been stricken by a norovirus. The Santa Barbara Public Health Department inspected the ship this morning after 59 passengers were reportedly sick on the Crown Princess. From reports, the non-sick passengers were allowed to come ashore after inspection this morning, while those stricken have reportedly been encouraged to stay in their room for the remainder of the trip.

Cruise Norovirus Harris PollAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.”
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Setting a Low Bar

Weekly column by Loretta Redd

The confluence of power and politics dates back to the beginning of governments.   Money is power, of course;  it pays for the means to influence the decision-making of a voter or a legislator.

I don’t know of a single person who thinks there isn’t enough money spent on campaigns.  I don’t know anyone who thinks the obscene and growing contribution amounts are good for our Democracy.  I don’t know any individual who thinks money guarantees the most qualified and capable candidate will win.

Unfortunately,  I also don’t know a single person who believes they have any hope of changing the system.

But we do.

Campaign-FinanceAt least locally.  While the Supreme Court eviscerates any hope of campaign finance limitations, billionaire Sheldon Adleson has Republican candidates genuflecting before him in the very Capital of Greed, Las Vegas, and three California Democratic legislators are pink-slipped for bribery, we still have the right, the authority and perhaps the imperative to ‘course correct’ in our own backyard.

If indeed, all politics are local- I want some of you brighter, better schooled readers who live with the anxiety that our democracy really is slipping through our fingertips, to put a measure on the ballot somehow limiting the amount of money raised for a City Council election.

Placing limits on a donor’s “freedom of expression” sounds reasonable to most, until it thwarts our preferred candidate’s advantage. But if we capped the amount of money that could be raised for a Council seat, then our local influence peddlers, (be they Montecito millionaires or Milpas migrants, local land developers or public unions) would  be neutralized or neutered, depending on your perspective.

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SANTA BARBARA MUNICIPAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE

Every city in California has its own campaign finance ordinances, and no two are alike.  Limits vary in individual contributions, campaign caps, aggregate giving, reporting periods, disclosure and other factors.  www.fppc.ca.gov True, the State of California writes the overarching campaign laws, though I wouldn’t credit Sacramento with being the paragon of integrity these days.

Finance comes down to fear.

Running for office is terrifying.  Being a candidate for public office is as vulnerable as it is egoistic, as strategic as it is idealistic.  Appearing before throngs (one hopes) of mostly strangers- some of whom believe in you, and some who are hostile to your beliefs- is tough.  And all the while, you’re trying to say something that gets them to write you a check.

This last election sent at least two City Council candidates into 6 figure contribution-land…and for what?  A 35% voter turnout and the privilege of looking down the barrel of our $400,000,000 UN-funded liability of retirement costs and unpaid for projects.

The next City Council election is stirring into action those who felt left out of the money game and believe district elections will magically guarantee them better representation.  They’re wrong, of course, because it will only increase influence peddling and set geographical ‘districts’ at war with one another.

The City has a public portal for Campaign Finance Disclosure where you can search any candidate’s name or filing number, and view every contribution made.  It can only tell part of the story, as some corporate and union monies are ‘bundled’ so the individual check writers and smaller donors are not identified.    There are also contributions from groups you’ve never heard of,  like the Peace Officers Research Association of California,  who write checks  for a couple of grand at a time. Why would they do that if they weren’t hoping to “buy” favor, or perhaps return it to those who may have served their interests (i.e, salaries) in other elections.

I admit, I’m frustrated.  Trying to figure out a way to have financial integrity in the political process, even on a small scale like Santa Barbara city, is daunting.

Our last Council election, where more than $300,000 was raised and spent, succeeded  in having one-third of those registered to vote even bother to stamp and return their envelope, I’d say there wasn’t much ‘bang for the buck.’

The City of Santa Barbara already has an ordinance called the Voluntary Expenditure Ceiling,  inviting each candidate to agree to a $50,000 cap.  The only sure way to convince those running for office to agree to the Expenditure Ceiling, is by pledging  to vote only for those who do.

Adopting the Voluntary Expenditure Ceiling for our next City Council election is having a standard of elections higher than that of our nation’s capital.  Unfortunately, that isn’t setting a very high bar, but it is a clear and easy place to start.

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The Hazards of Freeway Living

In 2011 on Santa Barbara View, Cheri Rae detailed the hazards of freeway living,

In the rush to densify Santa Barbara, the planners and promoters of Plan Santa Barbara have advocated the construction of high-density housing along transportation corridors. A study released in December, 2010 reveals that the health risks in living in close proximity to a freeway extend beyond the acknowledged pulmonary and cardiovascular effects. It concluded the closer a woman lived to a highway during pregnancy, the greater the risk of her bearing a child with autism.”

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Ordinance To Establish Air Quality Design Standards For Development Near Highway 101

Today at their weekly meeting, the Santa Barbara City Council will finally come around to that reality. The Planning Division and Community Development Department will present an ordinance to Establish Air Quality Design Standards For Development Near Highway 101. According to the Agenda, “extensive exposure to higher air pollution levels next to freeways is correlated with increased health risks. State air pollution control agencies recommend that cities limit development of sensitive land uses such as residences and schools next to freeways.”

The PDF left details the Ordinance’s: executive summary, background, components, standards, implementation, impact, recommendations and analysis.

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In Discussing Social Issues, Watch Out For Those Clouds. Find the Elephant Instead. Part II

Column by Sharon Byrne

An interesting phenomenon happens when people start discussing hotbed social issues. I’ve been watching this for a while locally on the subjects of homeless and gangs. It goes like this:

Person A might think of gangs as the Mara gang leader in the film Sin Nombre. Straight from Central Casting: covered in MS13 tattoos, Darth Vader demeanor, muscled, and murderous. This gang leader hesitates not at all when putting a gun in a 12 year-old’s hand, dispatching him as a hit man. If the 12 year-old is caught, he goes down for the murder. If he rats out the gang, he’s green-lit for death. No big loss – he was a newbie. Thus the gang leader is completely insulated, and free to carry on with gang activities.

Person B, on the other hand, might think of her 14 year-old nephew, accosted by the police for hanging out with friends by the creek, just doing what normal boys do. Their hip-hop style clothing is unfortunately also favored by homies. It’s a case of mistaken identity, but the damage is done. These particular kids are not gang-affiliated, but they probably no longer see the police as the good guys after that experience.

gangNow imagine these two people, A & B, in their respective thought clouds, formed from their experiences, discussing the pending gang injunction, and the feelings they’re each likely to have. A is thinking of gang leadership, hard-core felons, and cartels. You need to deal with them firmly and swiftly. B is thinking of her innocent nephew, and how kids like this need protection from the police, not more cracking down.

Are these two likely to have a productive conversation?

Not unless one of them pauses, and says, “What is it, exactly, that you are talking about? What images and experiences are you working from?”

People in their thought clouds are like the old fable about the three blind men, each feeling an object, trying to discern what it is. The first declares it’s a tree. The second says it’s a vast wall. The third laughs, “you idiots! It’s a twig!” They argue heatedly, and nearly come to blows over it.

Turns out they had their hands on an elephant. The first had hold of the elephant’s trunk, the second, its middle swath, while the third was feeling out the tail. In the story, a king explains that they are all correct. The elephant has each part they described. But it is all of these parts, not just one of them. The point of the parable is that truth can be stated in different ways, and people with different belief systems can cling rigidly to their version, blinding themselves to the overall truth.

So let’s stop playing the part of the blind man, trying to prove the other blind men wrong. Let’s instead poke at the thought clouds, and ask what’s in there? Everyone is probably right in some way, but also very likely to be holding only one piece of that elephant.

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