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The Rancho Murieta Association continued moving toward stricter enforcement of community rules, with fines for first-time offenders, and the launch of improved cable services at Tuesday night's monthly meeting.

Both Director Mike Martel and neighbor Marcia Reimers questioned plans for a range of new non-architectural rules with higher fines and, according to board President Dick Cox, stricter enforcement.

The rules, still being revised, address graffiti, vandalism, a curfew on teenagers, skateboarding and quiet time.

Some of the rules would take the place of Community Services District ordinances that can no longer be enforced by CSD Security officers because they require police authority.

Marcia Reimers

Marcia Reimers asked what the community's skateboarders are supposed to do.

Martel said he favored rules that address "things that have danger to people, and property and a lifestyle," but he didn't favor everything in the new rules, using a $500 fine for a curfew violation as an example.

"I think we want our children and all the residents to behave ... but some of the stuff just appears to me to be one person's opinion about a lifestyle," Martel said. He added, "I think the message that we're sending is that we don't want young families to move in here. ... And it's going to have an adverse effect on people coming out here and wanting to move here ..."

Reimers asked about the process for adoption of the rules, and Cox explained that the rules will circulate among the board and RMA committees and be reworked before going to the public for a 30-day comment period. "After public comment, then the board takes action on them," Cox said.

Reimers said she was particularly concerned about additional rules for skateboarders. "What are they to do?" Reimers asked. "I think it's our responsibility ... to provide a safe place for these kids."

Cox told of recent encounters with teenage skateboarders. In both instances, the skateboarders were hitching a ride on a vehicle. When Cox drove alongside a pickup truck towing two skateboarders in Murieta North and asked the driver to pull over, "You would not believe the language that was directed at me and my lady friend by an approximately 17-year-old young man," he related.

"I don't call that responsible ... I am asking the parents of these children to be responsible."

In the second instance, he observed an adult driving a golf cart and towing two skateboarders. "The streets are not a place to skateboard," Cox said.

"Exactly. That's why we need to build them a park," Reimers said. "You have made the case, Dick. Thank you."

Cox was direct about his feeling that the community's rules need to be enforced.

At one point in the meeting, he spoke of the need for "a more thorough job" of enforcing the CC&Rs. In the past, he said, some fines were waived because "we want to be good neighbors" and perhaps were too lenient.

"It is my intention to eliminate the (first-offense) warning ... and to start hitting people with fines on the first offense," Cox said.

He said the RMA is looking into hiring additional enforcement staff and concluded, "...We are going to enforce our CC&Rs better than we have in the past."

Cox said the association is also looking at hiring a private security organization.

"CSD cannot provide the type of security that we are accustomed to, and as long as they can just observe and report, then we can do that with a private security organization and get what we have," Cox said.

The Community Services District Security Department provides gate officers and patrol on a round-the-clock basis. Residents pay a tax of $23.89 a month for the service. The CSD hires off-duty sheriff's deputies to supplement its patrol staff. Cox stressed that the deputies have law enforcement powers while they are working in the community.

Cable proxy organizers meet with board in executive session

Neighbors who have worked to end the requirement that members pay for RMA cable TV as part of their dues met with the board during its executive session to discuss the legal opinion that the board says keeps it from calling a general meeting and a vote on the cable issue.

The organizers of the opt-out movement said they have gathered more than 1,300 proxy votes supporting the effort to keep dues from being used for the cable system. The monthly dues include about $31 for cable. It covers basic cable service, operation of the system and a reserves contribution.

Board President Dick Cox said it's the view of RMA counsel that the Mutual Benefit Agreement won't allow the RMA to be involved with the effort to undo the present cable arrangement.

The MBA is a document the RMA signed with developers of Murieta North that includes a requirement that RMA provide cable services.

Wilbur Haines

Wilbur Haines was among those who took part in the board's executive session to discuss the cable issue.

"We are not going to call a special membership meeting," Cox said. "It is my understanding that the (citizens) committee can go ahead and call this meeting themselves, establish the meeting and take a vote. At that point, I'm not sure what we're going to do. ... But the board cannot, with the advice of our counsel, sanction this action. And we do not sanction this action."

Wilbur Haines, one of the neighbors opposing the present cable arrangement, asked the board to help facilitate the election so the voting procedures and outcome aren't challenged and become part of whatever legal action follows.

Director Mike Martel said he didn't take part in the executive session because he didn't understand why some neighbors could be part of the session but the entire community couldn't know what was being said. He asked that the board release a transcript of its recording of that portion of the meeting.

Cox said he would ask the RMA's lawyer, who participated in the meeting, if there are any objections to releasing a transcript. Cox polled the board members and found no objections to the idea.

Haines, who's an attorney and often pushes the board to open up its workings to the membership, said he had no objections to releasing a transcript, but he thought there were sufficient reasons for the closed-door discussions to be a proper executive session, including ongoing negotiations with the Pension Trust Fund over the cable issue.

Push to get cable improvements launched

Board President Dick Cox challenged contractor Justin Jordan about the failure to launch the RMA's new high-definition cable lineup. Cox said Jordan hadn't lived up to a private assurance that the service would be available in a matter of days.

Jordan, who lives in the community and started out as a volunteer on the Communications Committee, countered that not all the promised pieces of the service are in place yet.

"We have been promising this to our membership since November," Cox said, "and it hasn't happened."

He added, "Let's move on it and launch what we've got. ... If we can't market it, this system doesn't have a chance in hell of succeeding. We need to get on the air with what we've got so we can market what we've got."

The board postponed action on a cable survey for the membership, saying it needed additional work.

In brief

  • The board approved $290,557 for this year's street paving work. The bid exceeded the reserve amount by $30,000 due to higher fuel and oil costs, Maintenance Manager Rod Hart told the RMA Finance Committee last week.
  • The board approved spending $35,000 to replace 3,000 feet of aging, direct-buried cable that serves about 40 households in the area of Puerto Drive on the North. The cable will be replaced with cable that's in conduit. The funds come from 2007 reserves for the cable system because the Maintenance Department brought cable improvement projects the board approved last year in under budget.
  • The board voted to spend $4,680 to repaint the exterior of the RMA Building. This cost is $800 over what was reserved.
  • General Manager David Stiffler provided an update on the effort to water landscaping at foreclosed homes. To date, the effort has cost $5,400, he said. Maintenance workers began watering 19 properties on the North and South last month. Most of the yards are beginning to green up, Stiffler said, and will need mowing. The association hasn't been able to locate a water truck that can be purchased for $6,000, and it continues to rent one at a cost of about $2,000 in June. The work is being done during the four- to five-month interval before the properties are reclaimed by the bank. Although the association is tracking the costs and adding them to the lien on the property, "our chances of collecting are almost nonexistent," Stiffler said. "Once it gets in the hands of a lender, we may have a chance ... but we're probably the last group ... to receive anything." Three or four properties may be added to the list, Stiffler said.
  • The board delayed action on buying a new vehicle for General Manager David Stiffler. Directors asked Stiffler to price-shop for vehicles that would get good gas mileage, and Director Mike Martel questioned whether, given the association's budget worries, a new vehicle needs to be purchased at all.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470


July 16,2008

Board of Directors
Rancho Murieta Association

Dear Neighbors:

I wish to clarify our view of the statutory duties of the Association with respect to the impending special meeting of the membership and Bylaws amendment vote and state once again the proponents' request that you obey the law and perform your mandatory statutory duties.

You have been presented with a petition signed by over 5% of the eligible voting membership requesting the convening of a special meeting of the membership to vote on this amendment. This triggers a number of NON-DISCRETIONARY statutory duties on your part in the election process which we once again call upon you to perform.

The one thing which IS discretionary on your part is whether the Association, or the proponents, authors the Notice of Meeting. You have explained that your counsel caution you that the Board should not itself "sanction" this amendment because in their view it complicates the collection terms governing the Association's right to payment under the development agreement, and that in your counsel's view the membership may not amend the Bylaws because the Board has the right to control business affairs of the corporation. We dispute that characterization, since Corporations Code section 7210 says the powers of the Board to make corporate decisions are "Subject to...any limitations in the articles or bylaws relating to action required to be approved by the members (Section 5034), or by a majority of all members (Section 5033)." We are placing before the members a proposed Bylaws amendment which will exercise that power of the membership. You cannot deny the membership their statutory right to vote on this amendment because of some imagined untested legal theory. The members have the unconditional right to hold a meeting and vote. You have the right to then contest whether the outcome is binding upon you. But you may not disenfranchise the members by illegally blocking an election from occurring. No law permits that, and your counsel has come up with none.

That said, we recognize the Board's desire to avoid "sanctioning" this amendment, as your counsel puts it. We have offered, and offer here once again, an explanation of how the Board can comply with its legal duties under the Corporations Code and Davis-Stirling Act with respect to an election while not "sanctioning" the amendment as a corporate decision made by the Board.

The Board announced in its July meeting that the Board will not be the author of the Notice Of Meeting for these reasons, and we accept that. By so doing the Board has made clear that it does not "sanction" the amendment. Both Codes and our own Bylaws provide that if the Board elects not to give the Notice it may be given by the proponents, so we will proceed under that model.

However, the law regarding membership meetings and bylaws amendment elections specifies actions which the Association must perform. Unlike the noticing of the meeting, these are NOT discretionary acts; the Code says they SHALL be performed. Those duties include the sending of a ballot to every member, the appointment of an Inspector of Elections, and the establishment of a record date and roster of eligible voters.

These are statutory duties which help to ensure that an orderly election can be had. They have nothing to do with "sanctioning" the outcome. The Board is clearly on record as not "sanctioning" the outcome, which is all but certain because the proponents already hold the affirmative proxies of well over the requisite half of all voting memberships.

We have explained to the Board that it is important to the best interests of the membership that all concerned be confident that we had a clean, fair election. If your counsel's intransigence persists we may have to litigate the legality of the substance of the amendment itself over counsel's objection that the members may not amend the Bylaws to take this business decision of how cable television will be sold out of the hands of the Board. But we all have a collective interest in that not becoming a lengthy and very costly lawsuit over the election process. If this ends up being a court-supervised recount - another "Florida" debacle such as our neighbors at The Ranch recently experienced - the Board will have squandered tens of thousands of the members' dues dollars on unnecessary legal fees litigating those collateral issues.

So we call upon you once again to perform your statutory duties and by doing so place yourselves in a position where you KNOW the ballots were properly sent to the right people because the ASSOCIATION sent the ballots, you KNOW the right membership list was used to validate voters because the ASSOCIATION generated that list, you KNOW the ballots and proxies were properly tallied because YOU appointed the Inspector of Elections. Because the Code requires you to either give us the membership list or agree to mail things for us as an alternative, we will ask you to mail the ballots and Notice of Meeting for us. The proponents, not the Board, will be the senders. You will merely be performing your statutory duty. If not, we will demand the entire list of eligible voting memberships and do the mailing ourselves through a commercial service. But all can have much more confidence in the integrity of the vote if the Association performs that function, a function required of it by law.

If you again refuse to perform these statutory duties of the Association, we will maintain in court that you have waived any right to object when the membership through their proxies performs those steps. And we will prevail, because in an injunctive action a court applies the "doctrine of unclean hands," simply put, that one who has done wrong can not benefit in the injunction action from that wrong. You have stonewalled this effort every step of the way, ostensibly out of fear of "sanctioning" the amendment's purpose. The advisory vote went down by a landslide 78-22% in favor of voluntary cable, and you ignored it. When we geared up for this BINDING vote and I submitted the form of proxy to the Secretary for filing, as required by the Bylaws, you refused to send me back any acknowledgment of its filing. When I submitted a memorandum to your Inspector of Elections seeking clarification of howhe wanted to approach the counting of proxies he refused to respond to me. Now you are apparently attempting to block the election by sitting on your hands. This is going to look very, very bad in court if you now refuse to perform your statutory duties to conduct and supervise an election and then have the audacity to turn around in court and complain that the members responded by conducting the election and performing those functions themselves as best they can.

And there is no way you can win, because even if you inflict upon the members the waste of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees on a judicial recount, the fact will not change that well over the requisite half of total membership have already signed proxies directing a "yes" vote on the amendment. No technical flaw or loophole you assert will change the judge's determination that the requisite number of members have voted "yes."

So let's have a nice clean election where everybody can be confident the votes were counted right, and THEN litigate if we must your counsel's fantasies regarding the legal significance of the amendment and whether the Board is bound by it. Those narrow questions of law can be very economically litigated as compared to a judicially supervised recount or "do-over" of the election. The outcome must be taken into account in preparing next year's budget, so despite your stonewalling we have tried to move this process forward as expeditiously as possible.

We acknowledge your need to not "sanction" this outcome. We agree that we will not assert that by performing your statutory duties to mail the ballots, establish the voting list, or appoint an inspector of elections you have waived your objections to the legal effectiveness of such an amendment; that claim is preserved. So please, for the sake of the membership and the treasury, let's just have a nice clean election and then much more economically litigate afterwards if we must about whether the amendment is binding upon the Board.

Please respond by Tuesday, July 22, as we have immediate decisions which have to be made regarding the preparation and mailing of the Notice and Ballot.

Freedom Of Choice Committee

Marklin Brown's picture
Joined: 08/12/2007
Posts: 196
Post rating: 104


One small point. Being towed by a vehicle on a skateboard is not skateboarding.

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

Cable proxy organizers set Sept. 10 meeting

Earlier today, John T. Weatherford, one of the cable proxy organizers, e-mailed this copy of comments he delivered to the RMA board at Tuesday's meeting:

The Freedom of Choice committee has great news. We have collected the required number of signatures for a petition to call a special members meeting to amend the bylaws to make the RMA Cable TV operate on a voluntary basis. We submitted the petition to the RMA Board of Directors President on June 25th 2008.

That was 20 days ago, so according to the bylaws,

“If the notice is not given by the Association within the 20 days after receipt of a proper request from at least five percent of the Members, the persons requesting the meeting may give the notice and all out of pocket costs associated with the preparation and mailing of the notice shall be borne by the Association.”

The RMA Board of Directors has decided to forgo giving notice of the meeting, therefore we are giving notice that the meeting will be held on September 10th 2008. We will be sending each member who is eligible to vote a notice of the meeting and a ballot to vote on the proposed bylaw amendment. Keep in mind that if you have already signed a proxy you do not have to vote again.

Wyatt Gaylor's picture
Joined: 08/24/2007
Posts: 63
Post rating: 46

That's Why

So that's why "you" didn't collect my no vote. You want to force me to show-up to this meeting to vote no. If "you" would have collected my vote when you were collecting YES votes I wouldn't need to show up.



Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

You will be mailed a ballot

Wyatt, everyone will be mailed a ballot within a couple of weeks. Those who have already signed a proxy don't need to cast a ballot to vote yes, your proxy will cast it for you pursuant to the written instructions you signed. But for those few who feel they missed your chance to vote No, your official chance to vote No is when you cast your ballot. You don't have to show up at the meeting. You open the mail, mark a ballot, put it in an envelope, put that in an outer envelope which you sign and mail it back. All done in the comfort of your home. So no, there was no sneaky trick to make people have to go to the meeting to vote No. You have your full normal opportunity to vote by mail from home.

The "no" votes simply don't matter in amendment elections because of the very high minimum "yes" vote requirements. The amendment only passes if a over HALF of ALL memberships in the entire Association votes yes. If they do, it is mathematically impossible for there to exist a greater number of "no" votes if over half voted yes.  So as long as you don't vote yes, you are effectively voting No just by denying the "yes" side your vote.

Proxies are not ballots, just a way to authorize someone else to cast your vote for you. They are a useful way of ensuring that the petition's proponents - who by definition are not expected or required to be neutral, mind you -  have the requisite number of "yes" votes in hand before setting the meeting date and voting cutoff. 

But every single eligible member will soon receive a ballot and have the chance to vote No if they really want to. The actual voting has not yet occurred. No tricks, Wyatt, it's all by the book. We're not that dumb. Wink

Doug Lewis's picture
Joined: 08/08/2007
Posts: 165
Post rating: 322

CCR revision /review

There was talk that the CCRS were going to be revisited and possibly updated and or revamped.  Will this be done before stricter enforcement is carried out?  Are there certain CCRS that are being looked at?  Is RMA going to conduct any survery or receive community imput  prior to implimenting any new CCRs?  Is it possible that some CCRs that were written many years ago need to be amended or eliminated?  One that I would like to see revisited is the no parking in your driveway rule.  I understand it was done for visual esthetics, but with that in mind why is parking only restricted from 2am till 6am when no one is up to see the cars parked anyway?  Also if your car is too big, or you own a golf cart or if you have kids that own a car then a variance is allowed.    Perhaps charging a small fee for a one car variance would bring in more revenue than fines.  I understand that people should use garages for what they are intended for, but todays life styles involve more multiple car families and garage space can become family space for projects etc.  There is also no local storage for "toys" that need to be stored out of sight.  Very frustrating for those of us who dont golf, have raised the kids but still cant cram two cars in a small garage, and still get my fat behind out of the car. 

I also feel that if CCRs are to be enforced even more,  then there should be time limits set on how long it takes for commitee approval on matters citizens submit for review.  Delay causes people to just do it without asking instead of waiting forever for approval.  Tough to plant landscape in December.

To those who would say "you knew the rules when you bought here" I would suggest that while CCRs are an important aspect of a respectable nice community, it doesnt hurt to review them once and awhile. Times change.   Is it fair that  the Smiths can park their Suburban in the driveway because they have a golf cart  but the Jones cant park their Prius in the driveway because they dont?  Or that a collectors vette has less status than a golf cart?   This must be a nightmare for enforcement.

Doug Lewis


Doug Lewis

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Security, Skateboarding, and Fines

This recent meeting regarding security and concern over skateboarding is beginning to sound way over the top!

We do not have a security problem in Rancho Murieta.  Let me repeat myself, WE DO NOT HAVE A SECURITY PROBLEM IN RANCHO MURIETA!!!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Skateboarding in the street.  If you are going to go down this path, then what about roller blading, in line skating, cycling, etc.  The Bike Path that is on our streets is used by most people that think it is a golf cart path.  Why not start with prohibiting golf carts from driving on the Bike Path.  The Bike Path should be used for all recreation purposes including skateboarding.

Dick Cox said he saw some skate boarders holding onto a vehicle.  Then instead of driving alongside the vehicle making the situation more dangerous, he should have called the RMA Security and reported it.  What would have happened if the teenager he pulled alongside of overreacted and there was an accident where someone was hurt!  This is our President of our association.  RMA does not imdemnify Directors and Officers of the Corporation if your actions cause harm to anyone.  You would be directly liable for your actions, which sounds like road rage to me.

This idea of hiring a separate security force for Rancho Murieta is another hair brained idea.  If we continue down this path, we will be paying huge fees for security services and for what!!  Rancho Murieta does not have a security problem!!!!!  Read the security reports.  Tell us what is in there that makes this issue such a hot button! Where is the comparison of crime statistics that support your claims and require such drastic actions?  There aren't any!

Come on Dick lighten up.  Work with the RMCSD to improve existing services within our current budget.  Faster, smarter, better, cheaper!

And please leave the skateboarders alone, they are not the enemy.  Try working to help build a skate board park.  After all it has been identified for funding in the Parks Budget for many years.

Marklin Brown's picture
Joined: 08/12/2007
Posts: 196
Post rating: 104

Mr. Burnett/Skateboarders

Skateboarding maybe symbolic of all the things older folks can no longer do. One thing they do well as age progresses, is complain.

Fifty years ago they broke apart their metal wheeled skates, nailed them to a piece of two by four and started skateboarding. Now they are bank presidents, lawyers, doctors (probably all retired) and maybe some turned out to be criminals as well. These kids are not the security issue here as Mr. Burnett so apply puts.

Skateboarding is a danger to itself, how does it threaten the community?

When there are folks out in the back forty shooting, starting illegal fires, doing donuts in 2 ton vehicles and racing throughout the community, why the focus on skateboarders? This subject comes up over and over.

Maybe a piece of the vast airport could be used for a skate park.


I'm sorry I'm off of the more more critical issue at hand, what was that .... oh, cable.



Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

cable ballot/proxy

Wilbur, George, whomever,

Just to be completely clear, if we signed a proxy, and we get our ballot in the mail, we don't have to do anything expect sit back and wait to hear the results from the meeting?

John T. Weatherford's picture
Joined: 08/06/2007
Posts: 66
Post rating: 0


That's exactly right. This means that everyone that didn't sign (all 185 of them) can then vote their no. It also means the 900 or so folks we haven't talked to can now vote. Since the stats show in excess of 80% yes ratio if by chance they should all vote we will have another 800 or so yes votes. (no math degree required for this one)

John T Weatherford

Al Dolata's picture
Joined: 08/09/2007
Posts: 94
Post rating: 129

Election a Futility

 RMA's  current lawyers advise that the RMA and its membership are obligated by the MBA to offer cable TV service to certain third parties.    FOC disagrees.   They contend that they know the MBA better than RMA's lawyers; after all,  one of us wrote the MBA, they say.   They suggest that RMA get a new lawyer.   For the record, and I believe I am right about this, the current lawyers are on board because their predecessor helped  RMA negotiate the MBA and was relieved because of that and because he was percieved to have a conflict of interest.   Be that as it may, it would seem the more cautious course  to heed the lawyer's advice.   If the membership is obligated to maintain the cable TV system, how can some members be permitted to opt out of that obligation?  And if some do, won't all be compelled to do so?   If that happens, and our lawyers are right, aren't we open to a successful law suit against us?   I think the answer is yes, and that this is the reason the RMA's lawyers advise the RMA Board not to co operate in an election that would foreseeably undercut its capacity to meet its lawful obligation.  It is arguable that such co operation would be construed as derelection.    Since the BOD cannot implement the FOC's resolution , the election called for by the FOC would be a manifest futility; doubly so, because FOC says it has enough privately solicited  votes in its pocket to carry the day.  The election would appear to ba  sort of victory lap.   The law does not require futilities.  The disagreement between FOC  and the BOD is now ripe.  What will an election show?  


Al Dolata

Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

open comment/security

I was finally able to catch the open comment section of the RMA meeting. There was a gentleman at the beginning that had received a quote from a private security company on what it would cost for RMA to provide security at the gates and for RMA members. I also heard an estimated amount of over $500,000 that RMA pays to CSD.

To make this more precise,

CSD Security does have just over a $1 million dollar budget. Not only does that pay for personnel and vehicles,but it also pays for the software at the gates, the equipment (gate arms, bar code readers, etc.), off-duty deputies, the vehicles and gas for the VIPS, etc. So estimates should compare like for like.

The only contract (that we can find) that RMA has with CSD is the evening contract for CSD to cite for driveway parking and open garage doors. That contract figures to be roughly $4,200 per year, if all hours are used. If there are any other contracts between RMA and CSD for security, the Ad Hoc Governance Committee would be interested in seeing them.

Outside of that contract, any other monies that go to CSD from RMA members are independent of the fact that the resident belongs to RMA, but are collected from all residents in the district, per a ballot measure in 1998 that authorized the tax (which passed by 77%).

CSD provides security not just for district residents that belong to RMA, but for all district residents, both inside and outside the gates, including the commercial areas, now and in the future. Any changes to CSD Security would have to be done by CSD, not RMA. That, of course, does not preclude RMA from hiring their own security guards in addition to CSD security.

John T. Weatherford's picture
Joined: 08/06/2007
Posts: 66
Post rating: 0

It's not Futility

Al, the operative words used by the lawyer was “may modify”. It is my understanding the tape of the meeting is going to be released so we can all hear what she said. We think she is wrong but whether you do are not, she and the board are using exactly the same argument the board used to approve the MBA. The lawyer made me do it! 

One interesting thing she said, I hope it will be audible, is that when the board, the PTF and the developers amend the agreement there is absolutely nothing to prevent Freedom of Choice. In fact she said the board could do it without an amendment.


When her original letter dated May 8, 2008 was published it took us just 5 days to get a meeting with the developers and they seem to have no problem with making it optional. That's over 60 days ago. As of this date, at least to my knowledge and according to the president, the board still has not had a meeting with the developers. Someone is dragging their feet and they are only 20 minutes away.


Remember it is already optional for them and there is no guarantee that they will ever use it, it was always about how they would pay for it if they decided they wanted to hook into our system.

John T Weatherford

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