We have significant concerns that the bipartisan Connecticut budget will include a provision for the automatic approval of permits if DEEP does not act within 90 days.

This sort of "streamlining" of permitting and review, which is happening both at the state and federal level, is exactly why we have been fighting to keep the high-speed rail bypass proposals out of Tier 2 planning.

We urge you to contact your state representative to oppose this measure as soon as possible (there will be a vote TODAY).
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3 months ago

Tonight, Monday, October 2, from 6:30 – 8 pm in the Westport Town Hall Auditorium (110 Myrtle Avenue), Gregory Stroud will be joining First Selectman Jim Marpe for a presentation on plans for constructing a new rail corridor through Fairfield County. We hope for a lively Q&A. Please come out, and invite your friends!

Tonight, Monday, October 2, from 6:30 – 8 pm in the Westport Town Hall Auditorium (110 Myrtle Avenue), Gregory Stroud will be joining First Selectman Jim Marpe for a presentation on plans for constructing a new rail corridor through Fairfield County. We hope for a lively Q&A. Please come out, and invite your friends! ... See MoreSee Less

4 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Choo Choo trains. Unbelievable.

I feel our money could be much better spent constructing another corridor for i95 The rail commute th Grand Central is approx 45 mins from Westport. That same 45 minutes might get you to Greenwich using I-95 I-95 is the single greatest contributor to the erosion of the Quality of Life in Fairfield County The idea that we are going to spend billions of $$$ on an infrastructure project that affect a small % of the citizen and affect them marginally at best is ridiculous

hoe was the meeting?

A new rail corridor? I thought we all just discussed traffic didn't yield expanding the current one!

In an amazing feat of chutzpah, the FRA has chosen to make a carefully-parsed denial of the validity of the maps.

“The maps posted by SECoast were not produced by FRA,” said Warren Flatau, a spokesman for the federal agency.

Well, lets take a look at the metadata... AECOM, to be clear, is the contractor in charge of mapping environmental impacts for the FRA.

If after five years and $30 million taxpayer dollars, these plans are such an embarrassment, then why on earth were they approved as part of 
the July 12 Record of Decision? FRAs denial is incredibly disappointing, but not out of character for what we have long understood as a deeply flawed planning process. - Gregory Stroud, Executive Director, SECoast.

In an amazing feat of chutzpah, the FRA has chosen to make a carefully-parsed denial of the validity of the maps.

“The maps posted by SECoast were not produced by FRA,” said Warren Flatau, a spokesman for the federal agency.

Well, let's take a look at the metadata... AECOM, to be clear, is the contractor in charge of mapping environmental impacts for the FRA.

"If after five years and $30 million taxpayer dollars, these plans are such an embarrassment, then why on earth were they approved as part of
the July 12 Record of Decision? FRA's denial is incredibly disappointing, but not out of character for what we have long understood as a deeply flawed planning process." - Gregory Stroud, Executive Director, SECoast.
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4 months ago

Comment on Facebook

And note the content creation date.

Ho!

If after five years and $30 million taxpayer dollars, these plans are such an embarrassment, then why on earth were they approved as part of the July 12 Record of Decision? FRA's denial is incredibly disappointing, but not out of character for what we have long understood as a deeply flawed planning process.

Yikes.

If the FRA is using the maps internally and referring to them in public presentations, then they are effectively certifying the validity of these maps, no matter who produced them.

What time and where on the Monday October 2nd meeting in Westport??

6:30- 8:00 Westport Town Hall Auditorium.

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BREAKING NEWS

High-Quality maps of NEC Future projects in Fairfield County leaked to the public... with maps of the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass to follow shortly.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

PRESS RELEASE 

Preservation Advocates Release Previously Undisclosed High-Resolution Maps of Federal Railroad Administration High-speed Rail Bypass Through Fairfield County

Old Lyme, CT (Sept. 28): For the first time since the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed a significant expansion of high-speed rail infrastructure through Connecticut, the public, and local officials will finally have their first opportunity to examine detailed high-resolution maps of the planned New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass through the historic coastal communities of Fairfield County.

On Thursday, the preservation nonprofit SECoast, which earlier partnered with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to lead opposition to similar proposals in southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island, released what it says are previously undisclosed high-resolution maps of the proposal. In a statement to the press, the group claimed that while the maps were withheld from the public, and omitted from a Freedom of Information request submitted by the group to the FRA on April 6, 2016, the maps have been freely shared among state and federal agencies for months.

“We have always suspected that state agencies in Connecticut have had access to these high-quality maps,” SECoast Executive Director Gregory Stroud said in a prepared statement, “Now we know for certain that a number other states along the Northeast Corridor have had access to these maps since at least January. You have to wonder what legitimate purpose our own government has for keeping these detailed maps from the public.”

Stroud pointed out that a 1971 D.C. Circuit Court ruling in Calvert Cliffs Coordinating Committee v. United States Atomic Energy Commission holds federal agencies to a strict standard of “full disclosure,” tempered only by a “rule of reason” for the purposes of informing planning and decision making. Federal Regulations, C.F.R. 1506.6(f), require federal agencies to make “any underlying documents available to the public pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.”

“We have no interest in delaying sensible solutions and improvements for the Northeast Corridor,” Stroud noted. “We all agree that rail travel is vital for the economy of Connecticut, and for Fairfield County, in particular. But how can we support a plan, when the crucial details and impacts are kept from us?”

The FRA approved the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass as the sole solution for capacity and speed constraints on the Northeast Corridor between New York and New Haven as part of the NEC Future Record of Decision released on July 12, 2017. The Record of Decision will guide state and federal investment, and eligibility for federal matching funds, through at least 2040.

As shown in the newly-released maps, the New Rochelle to Green Greens Farms Bypass will require approximately 29 miles of new right of way, near and alongside the I-95 corridor through the towns of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford. This would include significant impacts to historic National Register districts in downtown Greenwich and Cos Cob; the National Historical Landmark Bush-Holley House; Mianus River and its embankments; residential neighborhoods in Darien; Flax Hill, Golden Hill and East Norwalk, in Norwalk; and to substantial commercial real estate in Old Greenwich and Stamford. An additional proposal for an expanded high-speed rail station in Greens Farms, also approved in the Record of Decision, has been met with puzzlement and concern.

“We’re working with town officials and local groups, including Greenwich Preservation Trust, to identify key impacts and areas of concerns, but we’re just scratching the surface,” said Stroud. “On October 2, the Town of Westport and the Westport Historical Society are hosting a public meeting on the plan from 6:30 – 8 pm in the Town Hall Auditorium (110 Myrtle Avenue), and we’ll be there to explain the plan, to answer questions, and to hear your concerns.”

In addition to the release, detailed maps, and further analysis, will be posted to www.SECoast.org
 
####

BREAKING NEWS

High-Quality maps of NEC Future projects in Fairfield County leaked to the public... with maps of the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass to follow shortly.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

PRESS RELEASE

"Preservation Advocates Release Previously Undisclosed High-Resolution Maps of Federal Railroad Administration High-speed Rail Bypass Through Fairfield County"

Old Lyme, CT (Sept. 28): For the first time since the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed a significant expansion of high-speed rail infrastructure through Connecticut, the public, and local officials will finally have their first opportunity to examine detailed high-resolution maps of the planned New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass through the historic coastal communities of Fairfield County.

On Thursday, the preservation nonprofit SECoast, which earlier partnered with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to lead opposition to similar proposals in southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island, released what it says are previously undisclosed high-resolution maps of the proposal. In a statement to the press, the group claimed that while the maps were withheld from the public, and omitted from a Freedom of Information request submitted by the group to the FRA on April 6, 2016, the maps have been freely shared among state and federal agencies for months.

“We have always suspected that state agencies in Connecticut have had access to these high-quality maps,” SECoast Executive Director Gregory Stroud said in a prepared statement, “Now we know for certain that a number other states along the Northeast Corridor have had access to these maps since at least January. You have to wonder what legitimate purpose our own government has for keeping these detailed maps from the public.”

Stroud pointed out that a 1971 D.C. Circuit Court ruling in Calvert Cliffs' Coordinating Committee v. United States Atomic Energy Commission holds federal agencies to a strict standard of “full disclosure,” tempered only by a “rule of reason” for the purposes of informing planning and decision making. Federal Regulations, C.F.R. 1506.6(f), require federal agencies to make “any underlying documents available to the public pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.”

“We have no interest in delaying sensible solutions and improvements for the Northeast Corridor,” Stroud noted. “We all agree that rail travel is vital for the economy of Connecticut, and for Fairfield County, in particular. But how can we support a plan, when the crucial details and impacts are kept from us?”

The FRA approved the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass as the sole solution for capacity and speed constraints on the Northeast Corridor between New York and New Haven as part of the NEC Future Record of Decision released on July 12, 2017. The Record of Decision will guide state and federal investment, and eligibility for federal matching funds, through at least 2040.

As shown in the newly-released maps, the New Rochelle to Green Greens Farms Bypass will require approximately 29 miles of new right of way, near and alongside the I-95 corridor through the towns of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford. This would include significant impacts to historic National Register districts in downtown Greenwich and Cos Cob; the National Historical Landmark Bush-Holley House; Mianus River and its embankments; residential neighborhoods in Darien; Flax Hill, Golden Hill and East Norwalk, in Norwalk; and to substantial commercial real estate in Old Greenwich and Stamford. An additional proposal for an expanded high-speed rail station in Greens Farms, also approved in the Record of Decision, has been met with puzzlement and concern.

“We’re working with town officials and local groups, including Greenwich Preservation Trust, to identify key impacts and areas of concerns, but we’re just scratching the surface,” said Stroud. “On October 2, the Town of Westport and the Westport Historical Society are hosting a public meeting on the plan from 6:30 – 8 pm in the Town Hall Auditorium (110 Myrtle Avenue), and we’ll be there to explain the plan, to answer questions, and to hear your concerns.”

In addition to the release, detailed maps, and further analysis, will be posted to www.SECoast.org

####
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4 months ago

Comment on Facebook

What isn't so clear from the maps, is what this would require to build, including fill, excavation, routing construction materials and trucks, staging areas... a massive, disruptive undertaking for Fairfield County.

Why does it stop in Westport? Someone from WP funding/lobbying this?

Are there updated Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass maps available?

Staff at SECoast and the Connecticut Trust sat down on Tuesday with Westerly Town Council member Jean Gagnier, Charlestown Town Council President Virginia Lee, and others, to discuss the next phases of NEC Future. 

We also had the chance to learn from Jean more about the Bricks and Murals project in Westerly and Pawcatuck which will bring in several nationally-regarded sign painters from out of state to complete 14 murals for the two towns.  Take a look!

Staff at SECoast and the Connecticut Trust sat down on Tuesday with Westerly Town Council member Jean Gagnier, Charlestown Town Council President Virginia Lee, and others, to discuss the next phases of NEC Future.

We also had the chance to learn from Jean more about the Bricks and Murals project in Westerly and Pawcatuck which will bring in several nationally-regarded sign painters from out of state to complete 14 murals for the two towns. Take a look!Did you buy your tickets yet? Only $35 in advance at bricksandmurals.org ... One week until the food stroll! #westerlyri #pawcatuckct #muralart #walldogs #murals #food #community #culture #history #festival #newengland #oceanstate
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4 months ago

View on Facebook

A pretty striking contrast in messaging between Senator Chris Murphy and CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker. Take a look at Murphy's opening speech in Westport on Thursday, August 24, and compare this to Redeker in Stamford on August 15 here: secoast.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Redeker-8.15.17-opening-statement.3gp

"So, in some sense what NEC Future does is paint this philosophy of investment for our future with no money and no projects, the State of Connecticut has a vision with no money yet, right, we pledged 2.8 billion against 100 billion so far and 5 years, 70% of that is in the railroad. All about state of good repair. So, our…effectively in Connecticut for Connecticut anything that’s programmed is in a capital plan, or potentially in a vision document, it’s all transparent, it’s all here, it’s all listed, there are no bypasses anywhere."

We strongly encourage you to take a look at Darien TV79's full video here: vimeo.com/231084714
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5 months ago

Comment on Facebook

This sounds like more $ for them to spend! Fix what we have Too many accidents.

Senator Chris Murphy held a meeting yesterday in Westport on the issue of high-speed rail for Connecticut, and for Fairfield County in particular. Needless to say, it was a very interesting event, with the senator advocating strongly for some version of the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, and further suggesting that the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass was far from settled. Most striking was dead seriousness of the conversation, and discussion of the proposals... I'd strongly encourage you to watch at least Senator Murphy's opening statement.

vimeo.com/231084714
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5 months ago

Join us for our first annual Golf Classic at Shennecosset Golf Course in #Groton, #Connecticut.

Funds raised through this event will support the mission of the Trust to preserve, protect and promote Connecticut's historic buildings and sites through our many programs. Support our Circuit Riders, grants, revolving loan fund, easements and advocacy work!
Reserve your spot or sign-up for dinner only here: cttrust.z2systems.com/np/clients/cttrust/event.jsp?event=12&
Sponsor a hole here: cttrust.z2systems.com/np/clients/cttrust/event.jsp?event=12&

Golfer registration ends Friday, September 8th. Sponsor registration ends Tuesday, August 29th.

Will you sponsor a hole? Or sign-up a foursome and walk where Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones have played? Or network at dinner with architects, developers, brokers, and contractors?
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5 months ago

Thanks to Jim Cameron and Darien TV79, we have a video of the meeting yesterday in Stamford, hosted by Senator Blumenthal, with CTDOT Commissioner Redeker, and leaders of Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford, as well as Francis Perkins, executive director of WestCOG [note that due to privacy settings, you will have to watch this video on the mother site at Vimeo]This is "High Speed Rail Meeting 8-15-17" by Darien TV79 on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them. ... See MoreSee Less

5 months ago

Here is a video of our April 26, 2017 meeting in Greenwich, CT on the topic of NEC Future high-speed rail. A 30 minute presentation followed by an hour of Q&A. We had great participation from Jayme Stevenson, Gail Lavielle, Fred Camillo, and others... please take a look, and share with your friends down in Fairfield County.The Federal Railroad Admin is proposing new high speed rail tracks from New Rochelle to Greens Farms. This informational meeting explains the plan and its effect… ... See MoreSee Less

6 months ago

With a standing-room-only crowd in Greenwich yesterday, we ran out of copies of our printed informational packet... it's now available for download here:

secoast.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Greenwich-Briefing.pdf
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6 months ago

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Making Greenwich Great Again

The Town of Branford is sponsoring an informational meeting on the NEC Future Record of Decision.  Greg Stroud, co-founder of SECoast and Director of Special Projects at the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, will be speaking and taking questions on the issue. It should be fun.

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 - 7pm at the Branford Firehouse, 45 N. Main Street.

The Town of Branford is sponsoring an informational meeting on the NEC Future Record of Decision. Greg Stroud, co-founder of SECoast and Director of Special Projects at the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, will be speaking and taking questions on the issue. It should be fun.

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 - 7pm at the Branford Firehouse, 45 N. Main Street.
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6 months ago

Blumenthal will be in Old Lyme today, at 10:30. We are out of town, working across the state on the rail issue, but we encourage you to attend. ... See MoreSee Less

6 months ago

The first rally anywhere against NEC Future was rescheduled for May 1, 2016. Lucky for us Gil Boro hosted, and kept us out of the rain and cold. Dini Mallory and Robin Breeding, co-founders of SECoast, organized the event. Dan Stevens and Clayton Allen, the Shrivers, Eleanor Robinson, and Sophia Griswold, provided the live music. At the time we were struggling to get anyone to take the issue seriously, but Devin Carney and Paul Formica were there to give their support. Daniel Mackay was there and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation co-sponsored the event. Olwen Logan covered the event for LymeLine. Documents obtained later through the Freedom of Information Act showed CTDOT officials circulating Logans write-up. 

Looking back, who would have guessed how this would turn out? Thanks to all, and to many more, who helped out...

The first rally anywhere against NEC Future was rescheduled for May 1, 2016. Lucky for us Gil Boro hosted, and kept us out of the rain and cold. Dini Mallory and Robin Breeding, co-founders of SECoast, organized the event. Dan Stevens and Clayton Allen, the Shrivers, Eleanor Robinson, and Sophia Griswold, provided the live music. At the time we were struggling to get anyone to take the issue seriously, but Devin Carney and Paul Formica were there to give their support. Daniel Mackay was there and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation co-sponsored the event. Olwen Logan covered the event for LymeLine. Documents obtained later through the Freedom of Information Act showed CTDOT officials circulating Logan's write-up.

Looking back, who would have guessed how this would turn out? Thanks to all, and to many more, who helped out...
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6 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Here's a pic of the event from LymeLine.com

The Local Motives... Dick, Rich, and Barbara Shriver, with Eleanor Robinson

Strumming and humming our way through vintage train songs that helped propel a movement to a sensible decision by the FRA. Grateful.

Amazing what can happen when we all raise our voices together.

As we work through the Record of Decision, including 2600+ pages of public comment, summaries and responses from the Federal Railroad Administration, I'd like to briefly touch on a few key issues for communities across Connecticut and Rhode Island, and I'd like to ask a favor. Read on!

For communities stretching from east of New Haven to Providence, where the Federal Railroad Administration has dropped plans for a "Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass," from the just-released Record of Decision... a note of caution.

If you turn to Appendix A page 28 of the Record of Decision, we have identified a provision in the document which clearly suggests an intent to revisit 'dropped' plans to quad-track between Branford and Guilford stations in Connecticut, as well as to revisit plans for a Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass through the historic district in Old Lyme.

This is a bit technical, but here is the key portion of text:

........ snip..........
Accordingly, the Selected Alternative includes the requirement for a capacity planning study (the New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study), in partnership with Connecticut and Rhode Island, that will identify on- and off-corridor infrastructure elements to achieve the service and performance objectives of the Selected Alternative between New Haven and Providence. The New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study will encompass the geographic area within the following limits: along the Hartford/Springfield Line from New Haven to Hartford, from Hartford to Providence, and along the existing NEC from New Haven to Providence. This study area includes the areas considered for capacity expansion between Branford to Guilford, CT, and Old Saybrook, CT, to Kenyon, RI. Completion of a New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study for this area will be a pre-condition to any Tier 2 projects that are intended to increase capacity.
.........snip..........

We can't really think of any reason to mention these 'dropped' routes specifically in the Record of Decision, other than to guide later planning, and to assure that plans for the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass, and Quadtracking between Branford and Guilford are reintroduced into decision making at a later date.

When? The best answer, as usual, is in a piece by Ana Radelat for the Connecticut Mirror. The key quote:

......snip...............
"There is no timetable for the capacity study, allowing for “a healthy process” to determine how to improve rail service in eastern Connecticut, said Rebecca Reyes-Alicia, who is managing the Northeast Corridor project for the agency."

She also said “there was no consensus” for the proposed Old Saybrook to Rhode Island bypass.
.......snip.............

ctmirror.org/2017/07/12/feds-drop-old-saybrook-to-rhode-island-bypass-from-final-rail-plan/

As a benchmark, we hope that that by a "healthy process," Reyes-Alicia means more, not less, public participation.

Now while this eastern portion, which impacts towns from Branford, CT to Charlestown, RI falls asleep, what will be happening to the west in Fairfield County?

Three days ago, I spend two hours ago being briefed on the plan by a rail insider, and his take was this:

Pay attention to the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, because that's "where the action is."

If you don't know already, the NEC Future Record of Decision selected this bypass as a solution to transportation problems in north/east of New York City. This plan proposes simply enormous impacts to the historic coastline towns in Fairfield County, including Riverside, Cos Cob, Stamford, and Darien.

So when does this planning start?

Our source tells us, that there is already an early working group at the CT DOT tasked with moving ahead piecemeal with the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass. Last night, this was pretty much confirmed by Sue Haigh, in a piece for the Associated Press. Another must-read. Here is the key section:

.......snip................
Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker said his agency first plans to examine ways to improve service frequency and travel times between New Haven and New York City. The FRA's updated blueprint calls for improvements including additional railroad tracks, station and system upgrades, and the replacement of aging moveable bridges. A state-funded, $3 million consultant's study is already underway. Redeker said DOT hopes to identify short-term initiatives in the next two years, followed by longer-term infrastructure upgrades.

"We're sort of actually ahead of the game in terms of moving forward in Connecticut," he said, adding how there is not an immediate rush to work with Rhode Island on the New Haven-to-Providence stretch of the rail line because there isn't money available to make the improvements.
........snip...............

This raises a few key questions: Who is conducting the study? When did the study begin? What are the parameters of the study? And how could CT DOT begin a "state-funded $3 million dollar consultant's study" without some prior knowledge of the decision to select the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass as part of the Record of Decision?

So... it's pretty clear that there is no time for delay, and that we need to actively engage communities in southwestern Connecticut in this process as soon as possible. The best solutions -- and there will be solutions -- will require serious, immediate, and informed engagement from the public and elected officials in Greenwich, Stamford and Darien.

And that brings me to that favor I'm asking of you... it's a small state. I know all of our readers have friends and family living in Fairfield County. Please reach out to them... explain to them what we've accomplished here east of New Haven, and encourage them to "like" or "follow" our page on Facebook, or sign up for our newsletter on our website at SECoast.org.

For everyone living along the New Rochelle to Greens Farms Bypass, this is just getting started, and they are going to need all the help they can get. And lastly: PLEASE SHARE THIS POST.
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6 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Keep your eyes on SEC and CTDOT. SEC is doing a good job of keeping us informed. TY Joanne Bouknight for posting.

When Rebecca Reyes-Alicia says "healthy" - imo, she is using a vague, subjective term.Specific commitment to public input is what is called for. Please watch this video, even though it is long, because this agenda has found its way into our local ordinances, and it is not good. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ykELwj1Ta8

Ann Luedke Lobdell. Share this with your New Caanan friend

Mark Lurie

Thanks for the updates. We need modernization and must accept SOME, but the least disruptive changes.

Thanks Katie for taking the time to share this with us. Pretty involved... Xx

They are fighting hard against this in Maryland too. What a mess. We need to stay vigilant.

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