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Don't forget to flip the ballot and vote on the non-partisan races: A Public Service Reminder

by: Eric B.

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 14:33:20 PM EDT

While everyone's eyes are focused next week on the race for governor and when we get to elevate Gary Peters to the U.S. Senate, it'll be easy to forget that there are races on the back of the ballot. We know one of the candidates for one of the races, because his campaign is sponsoring this site through next Tuesday. This is not a sponsorship post, however. We also know one of the Republican candidates for supreme court, because he was caught appearing in campaign ads in his military uniform. It's shameful stuff.

No, this post is about the two ballot proposals related to the wolf hunt.

About that hunt ... supporters say that they need to hunt wolves to protect livestock and pets. This is like saying that your crime reduction and prevention plan is to arrest and imprison people at random. If you want to deal with problem animals, you deal with the problem animal. You don't kill an animal that is not causing trouble. And, contrary to the arguments of wolf hunt supporters, killing animals at random is not scientific management. It is killing animals at random. If you wanted scientific management, you'd send managers into the field to kill specific animals. So there is that.

But, this is more than just about whether to hunt wolves. This is about the legislative process being used to diminish your rights of property disposal. The bill that conducted the end around of the democratic process the first time, the one that placed management of game species into the hands of gubernatorial appointees, exempted mourning doves. Why is that? Because mourning doves went before a vote of the people, the owners of the state's mourning doves, and the people said, "No, we do not wish to see our property disposed of in this fashion." If this was about wildlife management, the fate of mourning doves would have been worked into the bill. At its heart, it is not. It's about who gets to choose what happens to property that belongs to you.

A No vote is the vote to preserve this. Don't forget, come Tuesday.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

All of your momentum is coming up Schauer

by: Eric B.

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 10:59:16 AM EDT

There've been two polls out in the last 12 hours that have shown that, contrary to what we've been told by the media and our political people, the race for governor is tightening rather than moving in the direction of our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan. I've also seen one or two people say that the race is likely to be decided by absentee ballots, which the reporting on which suggests that this is in Schauer's favor. Of course, I haven't seen any poll hit 50 percent for our benevolent overlord and undecided voters still hitting around 10 percent. So unless the polls out since last night are real outliers, we could be in for a very interesting Tuesday.

It should also be noted that Peters is out in front of Land by 15 points, and apparently seeing the writing on the wall, the Detroit News decided to toss a ring into the "You need to take us more seriously because we sometimes endorse Democrats when it's painfully obvious to everyone that the Republican is utterly wretched" circle. They remain not worth taking terribly serious because part of their endorsement focuses on Keystone as if Keystone is an important Michigan issue when it is not.

Back to the gubernatorial race ... the idea that the media told Snyder was locking this race up seems like an odd one. Usually, they tend to land squarely in the "This race remains tight and unpredictable" even when it isn't? I'm talking about Jennifer Granholm's re-election in 2006, when she was opening a huge lead going into the final weekend even as people told us that the race remained too close to call.

The reason, I suspect, can be found in the Freep's terrible gubernatorial endorsement editorial. At the end of the day, remember, despite hating basically everything the governor has done, except fixing Detroit, they endorsed him because he takes decisive action. The decisive action, minus what he did in Detroit, is mostly all awful and has made life materially worse for most of the people in the state, but it is decisive action nonetheless. Mark Schauer, on the other hand, can't offer any firm plans ... even though everyone understands that any concrete plans he offered would not survive contact with the enemy ... in this case, the state Legislature. This is a state Legislature, mind you, that could well be operating under the Hastert Rule next term.

I think our political press loves someone who will just do something, which people commonly mistake for leadership. We tend to think people who project that they would prefer to talk things through as either nebbish or, on the other end of the spectrum, gas bags. We tend to think of people who act as focused and, in the words of the Freep's editorial page, decisive. Because of that, Snyder comes across to them as a lot more gubernatorial and based on that alone they think he should be re-elected (and Gary Peters comes across as a lot more Senatorial than Terri Lynn Land, but part of that is because Land is not Senate material, which accounts for the News' endorsement).  I think that's why a lot of our political press really like Snyder, even after he's repeatedly lied to them, evaded their questions and done things that cause them to recoil with horror, and I think they assume that most people really like him, too.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

GOP Supreme Court justice nominee violates DoD rules about campaigning in uniform

by: Eric B.

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 18:59:39 PM EDT




So, off to the left is a Google ad that has popped up on the the site for most of today. At least for me. It's one of the Republican nominees for state supreme court, james ROBERT REDFORD. Here he is, in a Google ad (please feel free to click on it as many times as you can to cost them a maximum amount of money while putting a little change into my pockets). In case you hadn't gathered, he's a MILITARY VETERAN, because he's wearing his uniform. The trouble?

4.3.2. Members included in subparagraph 4.3.1. may NOT, in campaign literature (including Web sites, videos, television, and conventional print advertisements): Use or allow the use of photographs, drawings, and other similar media formats of themselves in uniform as the primary graphic representation in any campaign media,such as a billboard, brochure, flyer, Web site, or television commercial. For the purposes of this policy, “photographs” include video images, drawings, and all other similar formats of representational media.

Who does 4.3.1 say?

4.3.1. Members not on active duty who are nominees or candidates for the offices described in subparagraph 4.2.1. may, in their campaign literature (including Web sites, videos, television, and conventional print advertisements):

That means veterans (or anyone) cannot appear in campaign ads wearing uniforms, except that is what Republican nominee for state supreme court james ROBERT REDFORD has done.Their Supreme Court candidate has violated DoD rules on use of the military uniform in political advertisements.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Dear Ken Braun: Your party has a way to bounce Goat Killer; the problem is that they don't want to

by: Eric B.

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 17:00:00 PM EDT

Ken Braun has a column about Goat Killer's latest bigoted Facebook tirade. The gist of it is that after next week's election, the Michigan Republican Party should figure out a way to bounce him out of his office as national committeeman from Michigan and replace him with someone who doesn't damage their candidates in tight races.

On November 4th there will be Republican races narrowly lost or more costly to win than they should be because Mr. Agema’s office has been used to harm his party rather than help it. Finding a way to get rid of him should become a Michigan GOP priority on November 5th. If they need a military veteran and a Republican with more class and dignity to stand alongside and help Ms. Romney-McDaniel going into the 2016 Presidential Election, then just about any option that steps forward stands a reasonable chance of being a better one.

The problem is that they don't need to wait until Nov. 5 to do this. As has been pointed out before, they have all the authority they need to do it themselves ... in their bylaws, in the national party bylaws and in the general guide of Robert's Rules of Order. It goes against the basic point of even having bylaws if they are going to restrain you from pursuing an organization's best interests. If the mechanics of how to do it aren't explicit, then they are implicit, based on an interpretation of existing rules rather than simply throwing up your hands and saying, "There's nothing to be done!"

Sorry, guys, that's a bullshit excuse. No organization in the history of organizations has been thusly constrained, and that includes the Michigan Republican Party. If people really wanted him gone, they could make him gone. But, it would blow up the schism within the party between the Establishment Republicans and the unhinged Tea Party base voters, who really think that Goat Killer is a wind of fresh air, and that puts at risk other, more important things to the Establishment (i.e. continuing the unward vacuuming of this nation's wealth). So, no one pushes the envelope too hard.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Part two in "No one cares who you endorse, Mr. Media Outlet, so why don't you just shut up?"

by: Eric B.

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 16:00:00 PM EDT

In all the world, there is only one campaign institution that is more anachronistic, pointless and ultimately unsufferably defended as the media endorsement. People generally hate the media, anyway, and no one cares who media outlets think they ought to vote for. I'm not sure why media outlets haven't picked up on this fact, that they could save themselves a lot of misspent energy and just do something that people are interested in reading. Point being: When is the last time that a media endorsement turned a major election? Answer: The last time a televised debate did, if you first eliminate Kennedy-Nixon. Never, that is.

We have another endorsement today for our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan, this time from the Michigan Chronicle. This one caused people to gasp in social media circles, because I think they assumed that it would be a mortal lock for Mark Schauer. I'm not sure why anyone would think that. I would give the governor a lot of credit for helping get Detroit squared away and turned around. In fact, if he gets booted out of office next week, his legacy will be as the guy who saved Detroit.

But, I don't think that is, by itself, reason to re-elect the guy. It was a singular act of decisiveness that I'm certain his opponent in 2010 was incapable of, but that singular nature means that it's a one-time thing. If Detroit needs a major overhaul again in the next four years, it'll mean that Snyder's first term ultimately failed in the first place.

For some reason, the Chronicle also makes the case that Snyder got health care for a lot of people. It's related to the Freep's argument that Snyder expanded Medicaid, which happened but not over the noisy objections from our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, who sat on it most of the summer and then passed it in a way that it didn't go into effect for another six months ... in part out of a desire to stick varous thumbs in the governor's eye.

As to the policy initiatives carried out by legislation signed by this governor, most of Detroit's residents were harmed by them. The tax shift from businesses to the elderly and working poor hit the actual people of Detroit disproportionately higher than the wealthy suburbs. So, while the DIA appears to have been spared and the city's finances sorted out, the people of Detroit still get to pay higher taxes. And, the Healthy Michigan initiative is still Obamacare repacked as a Michigan-specific program.

This endorsement isn't quite so frustrating as the Freep's. It doesn't spend two-thirds of it attacking the guy it then endorses. But it still does come with the feeling to it of being a preconceived destination as opposed to being constructed on logic. That is, they wanted to endorse Snyder and went out and found reasons to get it done. That doesn't make it any measure better than the personal endorsement of your crazy neighbor down the street.

Media companies should take this to heart and the next cycle, just simply decline to offer endorsements.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Could the future of U of M's athletic program hinge on next week's election?

by: Eric B.

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 14:31:41 PM EDT

Well, this has certainly blown up, hasn't it?

In case you're not one for following links, it's a story about how David Brandon sent scathing responses to people who e-mailed him about the University of Michigan's football program. To boil it all down, people email their concerns and/or criticism of the program, to which Brandon answers (to sum up): "Eat shit and die, motherfucker." Right now, it has to be pointed out, that the blog that is reporting this is hedging a little bit on the veracity of the e-mails, but just a little bit. Other people -- Keith Olbermann -- are taking their reporting and running with it.

If the e-mails are legitimate, I don't see many paths where Brandon keeps his job. It's hard to imagine that as attendance to games has fallen during his tenure that being a collossal dick to dissatisfied customers is going to endear him to the people running the university, especially one with the reputation of the University of Michigan (probably you can get away with that at a Central Michigan University).

There might be one, however. Brandon is not some apolitical meathead. Before he took over U of M's athletic program, he was also regularly mentioned as being statewide candidate material fo the Republican Party. In fact, all the usual suspects (the Detroit News, mostly) talked up his experience running Dominoe's as bringing the cold efficiency of the private sector to the Ivory Tower of Academia (it just turns out that you can be coldly efficient and hopelessly incompetent at the same time). Next week, we've got an election with two seats on the University of Michigan's Board of Regents up for grabs, both of them Democratic seats. Incumbent Betty Kathy White is trying to hold one seat, and incumbent Mike Behm is trying to win a seat vacated by retirement; they compete against Michigan Republican Party chairman Ron Weiser and cardiologist Rob Steele.

If Republicans flip both seats, it wouldn't flip control of the board from Democrats to Republicans, but it would make it 4-4. Would that be enough to allow Brandon to escape the executioner? Well, again,  he's not some apolitical meathead. He's got heavy political connections ... like maybe Ron Weiser. And this, shipmates, is probably the closest you're ever going to get to a university board race having any impact on your day-to-day life.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Take it sleazy: The Brandt Iden story, Part 2

by: memiller

Sat Oct 18, 2014 at 16:39:57 PM EDT

(It's a bit old, but still tasty. Also, I'm writing this morning. So, stop bothering me. - promoted by Eric B.)

So, Part 1 was Eric's diary from Oct.2, about how the MRP told everyone getting an attack mailer against Democrat John Fisher to call him and complain about Obamacare -- only the number actually was the nursing home room of Fisher's 91-year-old mother who is receiving hospice care.

That was bad enough.

 Kalamazoo Republican Chair David Worthams commented on the flyer, calling it a "bone-headed mistake", but could not leave well enough alone, and went on to say:

It’s blatant and shameful that John Fisher continues to use his mother as a pawn. On Sept. 15 at a forum held at the Kalamazoo senior services center, Fisher lied to the senior citizens in attendance by claiming that Republicans had taxed her out of her home.


Now, what Fisher said about the effect of tax policy, using his mother's house as an example, is the kind of thing we have political disagreements about. They are not the sort of thing we should be calling each other liars about. I may believe a Republican is mistaken when he refers to "job-killing environmental regulations", but that is his opinion, I won't call him a liar. In fact, it is blatant and shameful for Worthams to do so to Fisher.

THIS is what we mean by liar:

 KALAMAZOO, MI — The Republican candidate running for the 61st District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives acknowledged Thursday that he lied on his MLive Voter Guide questionnaire when he was asked if he had ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.

Brandt Iden, who is currently a Kalamazoo County commissioner, was convicted in 2010 of misdemeanor operating while intoxicated. He was sentenced to 180 days of probation, state records show.

The MLive Voter Guide asks candidates if they have ever been arrested and also if they have ever been convicted of or pleaded no contest to a crime. Iden answered "no" to both questions

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 236 words in story)

If at first you don't get the result you wanted, try and try again

by: Eric B.

Tue Oct 28, 2014 at 15:32:30 PM EDT

Someone forwarded this e-mail to me from a forwarded email allegedly from Steve Mitchell about his latest poll. The part I've copied and pasted starts with the subject line.

Subject: Fox 2 Detroit/Mitchell Poll will be released  TUESDAY  not Today, Monday

Hi All

As an insider, you receive our poll data in advance of the media.  We want you to know that we are uncomfortable with the data last night and want to get more samples tonight before we release the results of our poll this week!

You'll know  tomorrow afternoon what this week's poll shows!


It's good to know that when Steve Mitchell gets polling data that makes him uncomfortable that his solution is to go out and get a bigger sample.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

From the horseraces! Schauer up one in this one poll

by: Eric B.

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 14:40:16 PM EDT

This is the one, folks. Meanwhile, Vox gives Terri Lynn Land a 3 percent chance of winning next Tuesday.
Discuss :: (6 Comments)

MLive covers the Cotter voter guide lie. Allow me to correct their record.

by: Eric B.

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 11:49:42 AM EDT

Last week, someone sent me a copy of the MLive voter guide submision for my local state representative, Kevin Cotter. It included a lie, the kind of which depends on what you want to believe about the guy. He answered the question about whether he'd ever been found guilty of a crime with a, "No." The same person who sent along the voter guide submission also sent along a copy of a document with which I had some familiarity: A court record in which Cotter pleaded guilty to Open Intox in Gratiot County in 2000. This morning, MLive has a story about it.

"This situation is not a new development," he said. "I owned up to this very situation four years ago."

Cotter said he said he pleaded guilty to the offense in an article published by the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun around the time of his first election to state office. Cotter said he was told the crime was merely a civil infraction during the background check process that occurred before he attended law school.

Well, this isn't true. I know this because I wrote the column that broke the news. I didn't bother getting a comment from Kevin Cotter about it, because it was a) after the election and b) it seemed pointless to get him on record calling the offense what everyone knew it to be: A dumb kid mistake. I mean, how else would the conversation have turned out: "Why did you have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle?" Answer: "Because I was 23."

Maybe the paper did a story about it after I broke the news. Who knows, although it seems highly unlikely to me. What I can tell you is that he didn't come clean about it before the election, because it only came my way after someone tried to interest reporters at both newspapers in town -- the Morning Sun and Central Michigan LIFE -- about it, and both papers took a pass. So, someone stuffed a copy of the court record into the frame of my front door on the Sunday before the election.

"My understanding is that it is not a misdemeanor," he said. "I could be incorrect."

Section 257.624a of the Michigan Vehicle Code, under which Cotter was charged in Gratiot County's 65B District Court, defines the offense as a misdemeanor.

Guy has a strong inside chance of being the next House Speaker, he does.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

The utterly unfortunate Freep endorsement that reminds us why endorsements no longer matter

by: Eric B.

Sun Oct 26, 2014 at 11:10:02 AM EDT

I take this break from Weekend Open Thread to comment on today's endorsement in the Freep of our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan. It's a reminder of just why newspaper endorsements no longer carry any weight, why media outlets should stop doing them, and why the media in general just no longer gets taken seriously.

But only one candidate could bring his agenda into practical, achievable focus. And so by the narrowest of margins, with keen reservations, the Free Press endorses RICK SNYDER for a second, four-year term as Michigan's governor.

He is the candidate most likely to build on the state's germinal economic momentum. He's also the candidate instrumental in Detroit's speedy voyage through bankruptcy, toward hopeful rebirth. And yet, our governor still needs to grow into a more sure-footed, principled leader.

Keep in mind that the Free Press just published, within the last month, a thorough investigation of the single biggest policy achievement when it comes to "germinal economic momentum." They found that it was failing to produce the dividends promised as part of its sales pitch. It was an investigation co-written by the guy who runs the Freep's editorial age. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the guy the Freep endorsed for a second term on the grounds that he's best suited to lead on economic issues was found by a Freep investigation to not actually be leading on economic issues.

One of the key points used illustrates not just how weak this governor is when it comes to demonstrating effective leadership but where people's focus should be. It's on Medicaid, which the Freep credited the governor for expanding.

Let us, for a second, ignore that it's a nationwide trend for Republican governors to actually endorse this and get it done. For some reason, this state's media keeps acting like it was some kind of dumb Nixon Goes to China moment, where a moderate Rust Belt governor shirked his own party and embraced government-run health care. While Snyder was still in Israel ginning up interest in Michigan's aerospace, defense technology and other industries, that xenophobic nut Jan Brewer kicked her own legislature in the balls until it expanded Medicaid there. That's Arizona, people. Here, we had Rick Jones saying that the governor could have had Medicaid if he'd only not sent the lieutenant governor to the Senate to negotiate. And when they did it, they refused to revote for Immediate Effect, which left thousands of Michiganders pointlessly uncovered and left millions in federal dollars literally sitting on the table. This, to the Freep, is the sort of bold, effective leadership that needs to be returned to the governor's mansion.

But, it's actually more than that. We've already heard that three Tea Party nuts who will probably be elected to the House are demanding that the House adopt a Michigan version of the Hastert rule, which would cement in Lansing that loyalty to Tea Party ideology is more important to loyalty to the state itself. Opposition to expanding Medicaid was part of that, which is why it almost didn't happen, despite being pushed not just by the governor but the business community. The Freep endorsed our benevolent overlord on the our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, while failing to acknowledge that our benevolent overlord has a terrible track record in getting our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect to sign on to things he wants but they don't want to give him. Put a better way: Everyone love that market-based Michigan-centric health insurance exchange where we can all go buy health care from private companies? Me too.

Fortunately for all of us, this endorsement won't make a lick of difference. No one cares what the Freep editorial board thinks about who they should vote for come next week. The only thing this is is a one-day topic of conversation on social media (Mark Brewer gave the Freep's editorial board a most savage, well-deserved ass kicking on Twitter this morning ... it was a thing of beauty to behold). At the end of the day, this will have the same penetrating impact in what happens next week as did the one gubernatorial debate held two weeks ago ... opposite Sunday afternoon NFL and a Walking Dead marathon. Coincidentally, the Freep's editorial page not only endlessly pimped that thing out as a necessary part of the democratic process, but provided one of the moderators.

P.S. Mlive released its endorsements this morning, too. Another reminder of why they are not to be taken seriously.

In his first term, the self-styled “Nerd Governor” accomplished key components of his economic plan, and the state is recovering from its deep recession.

That is why MLive Media Group endorses Rick Snyder’s re-election bid.

This ignores, a) that the state's recovery started before the governor took office, b) that the "key components of his economic plan" haven't actually had any demonstrable impact in that recovery, c) that the primary driver of our recovery was the resurgence of the auto indusry after federal aid for it was secured and d) the realities of the business cycle.

Much of the rest of the endorsement is aspirational, that they hope the governor will do things differently. This is talk of a someone who loves a right and true asshole and who insists that through the powers of their love that they can change the right and true asshole into a better person.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

All thine threads be open

by: Eric B.

Sat Oct 25, 2014 at 14:03:14 PM EDT

Did I mention that the kid got me hooked all over again on Minecraft? For those of you in the know, I just dug a basement out under my house for a Nether portal and put an enchanting table on the top floor, which is made of all glass. Don't have a ceiling on it, which means that the next time it rains all my bookshelves will get wet. Good thing it's a simple video game and not real life, because I hate it when it rains all over my enchanting table.

Meanwhile, the rough draft for my book about the backpacking trip I took my son on in August remains for some reason stuck on the last day

The rest of the weekend is yours, because I've got things to do.

Discuss :: (18 Comments)

Goat killer lies about meaning of "camel jockey," denigrates people upset over use of slur

by: Eric B.

Sat Oct 25, 2014 at 13:22:19 PM EDT

I give you your real spokesperson of the Michigan Republican Party.

Reached Friday, Agema said his comments were misconstrued and the term “camel jockeys” was used to refer to foreign fighter pilots who were not as well-trained as American or Israeli ones.

So this isn't true. I don't know why the reporter didn't do a little googling into the origins of "camel jockey." It has nothing to do with fighter pilots and everything to do with the fact camels have been used for hundreds of years as a primary source for transportation. Goat Killer got caught an offensive slur on Facebook and rather that apologizing has lied about the origins of the slur.

Agema added his statement was not intended to be racist or discriminatory and the ensuing dispute “is just a smokescreen to take the emphasis away from the fact that ISIS is an enemy of ours. ... This is political correctness run amok, as usual.”

An ethnic slur tht isn't intended to be derogatory? What kind of idiot would believe this? Oh, right, Michigan's Republican National Committee committeeman.

The uproar is the latest controversy for Agema, who was elected as Michigan’s RNC committeeman in May 2012.

And, has been pointed out, his own party has refused to do anything about him and his frequent bigoted tirades. And, so we can interpret this to mean that he has the blessings of his party's leadership to post racist and homophobic things on social media. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure they could just vote him off the island.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

And finally retrogerrymandering the Oakland County commission districts pays off

by: Eric B.

Fri Oct 24, 2014 at 15:00:00 PM EDT

Finally, an executive pay raise that Republicans cannot get behind on the grounds that you need to pay talent to attract and retain talent.

(WXYZ) - The controversy over bonuses given to two top executives with the Detroit Institute of Arts is heating up even more this week.

Oakland County commissioners are angry and giving the DIA an ultimatum for the execs to give back the bonuses or else.

Commissioners are threatening to pull their portion of taxpayer money—a whopping $11-million.

Completely unrelated is this ... four years ago, the governor signed a bill that reduced the number of county commission districts so that Republicans could do legislatively what they failed to do during an election, win a majority of seats. Now, thanks in part to that law, the DIA has to continue suffering unwarranted controversy.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

And now, a word from our sponsor

by: Eric B.

Fri Oct 24, 2014 at 14:07:47 PM EDT

It's less than two weeks until Election Day. Probably very few of you reading this fall into the category of Undecided Voter, at least on the big races. Getting quite a lot less attention this cycle are the still critical races for Supreme Court justices, other judges and the ballot questions. Don't forget to flip your ballot and make known your voice!

One of them, as you're well aware, is sponsorshing Michigan Liberal through the Election. It's Richard Bernstein's campaign. Have you visited their site, yet?

Come November 6, the day after the election, this website will be sponsorless once again. Will you allow such a sadness to exist on earth? Sponsorships are very cheap and very effective. I mean, before September, who ever heard of the Bernstein family? Cost is $25 a day, $100 a month or a low, low $360 a month. If that sounds just ducky to you, contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, by text message at 517/881-8008 or on social media.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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