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    Default Clearwater Fire Chief Censured/City Boycotted

    Clearwater Fire Fighters Ramp Up Battle With City

    June 20, 2008 -- At the Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF) Annual State Convention in June, fire fighters called for increased support for Clearwater, FL Local 1158, as it continues its hard-fought battle against the City. Convention delegates voted to censure Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer, boycott the Florida Firefighter Games because of the organizers’ intention to hold the 2009 Games in Clearwater, and to boycott the City of Clearwater financially for its unfair and illegal treatment of its fire fighters.

    “The Florida Professional Firefighters has been behind Local 1158 since its fight with the City began, and we will stand behind them until justice is served,” says FPF Vice President Gary Rainey. “With the passage of these resolutions, we are taking the battle to the next level.”

    The boycott of the Florida Firefighter Games, should they be held in Clearwater, could cause the City to lose $4 million. David Hogan, secretary-treasurer of Clearwater Local 1158, says, “We are at impasse with our contract. We have had to file numerous unfair labor practice claims and grievances. We have had enough.”

    The convention resolutions and Local 1158’s “Save Clearwater Fire” campaign are in place to demonstrate to the City that its fire fighters are a force to be reckoned with and we will not back down until they receive fair treatment.

    For the last several years, Clearwater Local 1158 has fought battle after battle with the City of Clearwater over disputes that range from wrongful terminations to unfair labor practices. Contract negotiations have now come to a halt.

    Local 1158 has filed and won six unfair labor practices, five grievances and a gender discrimination claim. In addition, 26 grievances are still pending.

    Local 1158 has fought much of its battle with the City in litigation until recently. Members felt it was time to inform the public of the City’s actions and repeated unfair treatment. As part of its public education campaign, Local 1158 created a “Save Clearwater Fire” web site, which gives details about the unfair labor practices and the settled grievances and asks the public to contact their elected officials and suggests other ways they can help.

    “Our main goal is to let the public know that the City is unnecessarily spending thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to fight the fire fighters – those entrusted with protecting the safety of Clearwater citizens,” says Local 1158 President John Lee. “Since other City employees – many of whom belong to unions – are being treated fairly, it certainly appears the fire fighters are being singled out.”

    Meanwhile, contract negotiations between the City and Local 1158 came to an impasse when the City offered a zero percent raise – even though the City had budgeted a 3 percent raise for fire fighters – and demanded several changes to the contract.

    “To be fair, our president took the City’s proposal to all eight of our fire stations,” says Hogan. “Not surprisingly, they all said no. They were particularly concerned about the City’s proposed changes to contract language that would severely limit our ability to file grievances.”

    The next battle with the City will come when Local 1158 conducts its Fill-the-Boot drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association August 23-24. Hundreds of Florida’s fire fighters are planning to come to Clearwater to protest Chief’s Geer’s decision to prevent fire fighters from street solicitations.


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    Last edited by firefighterg; 06-22-2008 at 11:32 AM.

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    You think posting this 12 times in 12 different forums might be a little overkill?

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    What a mess... I know Im out of the loop, but those guys are true gentlemen and consummate professionals.

    In the short time I was there, I cannot recall witnessing a single incident of anyone giving less than 110% at anything they did. That includes everything from working fires, mitigating complicated medical calls, training and drills, even down to firehouse shenanigans. Half-*****ing just didnt exist.

    Those men and women surely do not deserve the treatment theyre getting. Cities owe a degree of treatment to their public's emergency service workers equal to the service the workers give to the citizens. That clearly isnt happening in Clearwater.

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    Catch 22,
    You are right. I apoligize for posting it so many times, but that should just let everyone know how passionate we are about it in Clearwater. We have been beaten and battered for 8 long years. I have witnessed several of my brothers get fired without just cause and had to watch their families suffer while they tried to make ends meet. They have all been reinstated since, but the city continues violate our rights. Visit www.saveclearwaterfire.org and read all the ULP's and grievance arbitrations. If you are a TRUE UNION BROTHER, I would expect that you would understand. Anyway, thanks for the post and be safe out there.

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    Firefighterg-

    I am hoping that this has made its way to the news media. You guys should go door to door with this and force the public to call for a change. The info is on the front page of our locals web site as well as the order to boycott the FF games. I can feel your pain, our city is becoming like yours. The chief and city manager screw us and we win in court every time but it does not stop them. We have a wrongful firing that may take out a few admin people and an employee setting sites on personal suits against the chief and city manager. Good luck brother.
    If your going to cry about doing the job you signed up for do us all a favor and quit, there are plenty of dedicated people standing in line for the best job in the world.

    Firefighter/Paramedic

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    Firemedic61,

    Thanks for all your support. All of you down there in 2928 are true brothers & sisters. Anything you guys need, just let us know.

    www.saveclearwaterfire.org

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    Thumbs down

    I knew Chief Geer when he was in TN at Franklin Fire and have been following the issues for some time. If I recall there were several things in the news over time to where you guys had a LOT of internal problems. From what I read the dept never let the Chief be the Chief. You won't find any sympathy here.
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    LT387,

    We are not looking for sympathy. We are merely exposing the truth and facts that Geer has been found GUILTY of violating numerous laws, unjustly terminated several ff's that are back to work now after independant 3rd parties did not see that Geer's testimony was credible, guilty of gender discrimination by the EEOC, and has no regard for the sanctity of a CBA. And to boot, he has not been held accountable for any of it including wasting hundreds of thousands of tax payers dollars. That is only scratching the surface. If you like him that much, than please, take him back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieutenant387 View Post
    You won't find any sympathy here.
    Funny, I never read the post as wanting sympathy, I believe they are merely looking for solidarity from other IAFF locals and support from other firefighters. Why dont you go to the website, and read the ULP and grievance filings- all of which were upheld by the State of Florida......Let the facts speak for themselves, and the facts prove that the guy is a mutt to the 5th power.

    Firefighterg, from an ex-member (in good standing) of the IAFF, I wish you guys well and am behind you 100%.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    I'll most likely be bashed to no end for this. On that site how many have read through the PDF full reports on some of them? I absolutely agree that Clearwater firefighters have been wronged and I support them. I don't agree with how the site is coming off that it is clear and cut the city is 100% wrong and the firefighters have no wrong doing whatsoever in these incidents.

    One case of a ALS rescue unit disregarding a sexual assault call because it was a known 911 abuser that has called in many false sexual assaults before, it's still possible although in the future for her to be sexually assaulted. Told PD to handle it and call if necessary. While I agree to handle some calls in differant and special ways, but to not respond at all and go available for other calls? The website is pointing out that the city is wasting X amount of taxpayer money, but in this case the site goes on to say that the union will also be filing racial bias charge for the medic that was black that was fired in this case, when the lead medic seems like he is white and treated exactly the same.(it is not mentioned, but I'm sure it would be mentioned if he was black.) Do you think a meaningless lawsuit that has no merit is not wasting taxpayer money?

    Another case of a fire inspector enforcing codes incorrectly, taking actions a fire inspector cannot do, and using his uniform for personal gain and in my opinion very disrespectful of YOUR uniform. He enforced codes that were no longer in effect or just interpreted them wrong. He closed down businesses for violation of code when only the fire marshall can do this. Then, his former sister-in-law was getting evicted and he went to the hearing during off-duty time in uniform to use his position to sway the hearing in favor of the sister-in-law. After it does not work out said fire inspector then writes up the housing for code violations that do not exist, billed them for improperly performed inspections and also billed them for inspections that did not even occur! After complaints were filled paperwork was found in his vehicle (fire dept. issued vehicle I'm assuming, it doesn't say in the report.) of purposely altering the reports of the housing and omitting papers. Yes, he was terminated unfairly and deserves rights and the such, but for the website and the union to maintain complete innocence?


    I'll say once again I do support you as the chief is doing unfair and screwed up things to you. To make a website and put misleading info on it isn't right. Be truthful about it some members did screw up but it's nothing compared to what the chief and city is doing.

    Bash away!
    Last edited by edge1317; 06-23-2008 at 02:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Funny, I never read the post as wanting sympathy, I believe they are merely looking for solidarity from other IAFF locals and support from other firefighters. Why dont you go to the website, and read the ULP and grievance filings- all of which were upheld by the State of Florida......Let the facts speak for themselves, and the facts prove that the guy is a mutt to the 5th power.

    Firefighterg, from an ex-member (in good standing) of the IAFF, I wish you guys well and am behind you 100%.
    FWD, I respectfully disagree with you. If you read the website and as Edge posted there are several things in there that appear to not be "exactly" clear. To put on the site there are 26 "other" pending grievence points without posting each and every one gives the impression of filler in a complaint. The site also said that Chief Geer had a brief stint as a interim chief in TN. It did not say he was the Ast. Chief prior and that he had already retired (I believe as a deputy chief) in Douglas Co. GA (metro Atlanta area). There was not any reference to the FF/medic that got fired a couple of years ago due to drugs missing. To say that one side is better than the other without looking in the mirror first and completly cleaning up your side. Generally I am pro union, but here I have to disagree.
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    Lieutenant387
    appear to not be "exactly" clear
    Any proof?
    If not, I think my Brothers and Sisters in Clearwater deserve to be heard.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Lieutenant387

    Any proof?
    If not, I think my Brothers and Sisters in Clearwater deserve to be heard.
    If you are going to quote, quote the whole sentence.


    "FWD, I respectfully disagree with you. If you read the website and as Edge posted there are several things in there that appear to not be "exactly" clear. "
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieutenant387 View Post
    I knew Chief Geer when he was in TN at Franklin Fire and have been following the issues for some time. If I recall there were several things in the news over time to where you guys had a LOT of internal problems. From what I read the dept never let the Chief be the Chief. You won't find any sympathy here.
    Let me interject an idea here. Maybe the Chief Greer you knew in TN isn't anything like the Chief Greer in Clearwater. Maybe he was hired with a specific mission in mind to come in and break the Union or reduce the budget through whatever means were necessary. I haven't got a clue but if he is treating the firefighters the way it appears he is, and you are a Union Firefighter, I can't help but wonder why you would side with management on this issue. Care to elaborate on that?

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    Not even IAFF, but was thinking about going over to the games.

    Thinking no, now.
    AJ, MICP, FireMedic
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    The fire-fighters from Clearwater are great, they're the whole reason I got into the fire service. When I did my ride-time for EMT school I did it all with Clearwater E-51 and had the honor to meet some great people. When I was growing up in Clearwater there was nothing in the world that I wanted to become more than Clearwater Fire-Fighter. I've spoken with a lot of these guys and my general thought on Geer is he's a union buster. All the men and women that are with this organization are stand up people. I've lived in Clearwater all my life and it' just a shame what's happened.

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    Living in Clearwater and working in a neighboring department, I have seen my brothers and sisters get treated unfairly time and time again.Their city manager and fire chief do not think they should have to deal with the union. Well than maybe they should move somewhere they don't have to. IT IS THE LAW HERE IN FLORIDA!! They have no regard for the contract, laws that bind them, or the people they represent. The facts are laid out on their new website, www.saveclearwaterfire.org.

    Edge1317, you have your opinion, but take a look at the recurring theme. ALL THOSE TERMINATED WERE REINSTATED AND WERE TO BE MADE WHOLE!! So that tells me that Geer screwed up somewhere. Employees have rights and fire chiefs can not just pick and choose which ones they want to follow. And I didn't see you mention all the UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES. There is another recurring theme there, CITY FOUND GUILTY or settleing because they knew they would lose.

    Lieutenant387, you are a lost cause. Generally you are pro union? Not if you are in Geers corner. Fyredup said it best. Maybe he is not the same person you knew up there. And I can say that he was definetly hired to break their union. He is so full of himself, he wears six bugles on his collor.No other chief in the world has 6 bugles. And for that, many of his peers in the region do not have respect for him. So regardless of what you think or feel, he has now been branded a traitor to the union and a union buster by 26,000 strong in Florida.

    I was at the convention when he was censured. Approximatly 500 people there representing the 26,000 strong in the state of Florida. The vote was unanamous and was the loudest voice vote that I have ever heard. There is a reason for that.

    Brothers and Sisters in Clearwater be rest assured that all the TRUE UNION BROTHERS/SISTERS ARE BEHIND YOU 100%!!!! Stay strong, stay united and you will prevail!!!

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    Just a couple of comments on your posts firefigherg
    I think you might be alienating a lot of FF by commenting so much on union affiliation rather than fraternal affiliation, i.e. firefighters. There are a whole lot of FF, both career and vollie who aren't union affiliated who could well add a lot of impetus to your cause.
    Secondly in your post on offduty forums, you made mention of the fact that your city was facing budget cuts, possible layoffs and station closures. Unfortunately, this is a widespread problem, maybe a bit more in some areas of US, but ocurring in a lot of countries now. If this is part of your beefs with the Chief, its misplaced. Unfortunately, the fire service seems to be always on the front lines in budget cuts simply because we are not visible most of the time, only in emergencies and a few days later, we end up in the back of peoples memories. It sounds from some of the other posts that the FD there is not without clay feet also. Your cause could probably be better served by giving all the facts in your posts and trying to get support not only from your union brethern, but also the public at large in your immediate affected area.


    Quote Originally Posted by firefighterg View Post
    Firemedic61,

    Thanks for all your support. All of you down there in 2928 are true brothers & sisters. Anything you guys need, just let us know.

    www.saveclearwaterfire.org

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    Bryan,

    I live in Clearwater and work for a neighboring department. So as you could imagine, I pay close attention to what is going on here. The reference about budget cuts was from another firefighter, not the one that made the post. It is clear that all firefighterg is trying to do is inform all firefighters of the unfair,unjust, and illegal treatment of his brothers and sisters.It is not about anything else but that. So you either support the boycott or not. It is that simple. As I stated, I live in Clearwater and I will not patronize the city in any way. As to my brothers and sisiters in Clearwater, you are the front line of defense. You will prevail!! Keep your heads up.

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    Firefighterg, having followed the problems the Clearwater Firefighters have had with the city of Clearwater for a while now, am I correct in my understanding that it has been stated by city staff that it is the goal of the City Manager and Fire Chief to bankrupt and destroy Local 1158 ?

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    On firefighters, city unreasonable

    I had the opportunity to watch city of Clearwater spokesman Doug Matthews on the evening news. Mr. Matthews was responding to the proposed boycott of Clearwater by the nation's firefighters. Mr. Matthews claimed that this is a "typical union tactic to personally attack people that are in charge to try and get their way."

    It would appear to me that it is the other way around — the city of Clearwater is attacking the firefighters. The city has yet to win one unfair labor practice or grievance. So — explain to me if I am wrong — the firefighters are standing up for their rights in cases where they feel they are not being treated fairly.

    Being treated fairly should be a right of all the employees of any organization. The fact that every unfair labor practice and grievance has been found in favor of the firefighters would indicate that the city and its leaders are not being fair and willing to work toward bettering the fire department.

    The city is taking a hard-line stance against the firefighters, and as a citizen, it is clear to me that the city is not being reasonable.

    There are many issues that the city needs to resolve: the outstanding grievances, the union contract and the muscular dystrophy boot drive. I know that this is not an easy task, but inflammatory remarks about unions aren't going to make that happen any easier or sooner. I also want to point out that the union is there to protect the members against outrageous acts by the city. It appears to me that the union is doing its job.

    I would not be writing this letter if the city was winning labor issues, but it is not. Stop wasting city money, stop costing the city money (by firefighters boycotting) and treat the firefighters the way they deserve to be treated.

    Theodore S. Handoga, Clearwater

    Re: Firefighters to boycott city, story, June 21

    Resolve dispute before costs rise

    For the last eight years Clearwater city government has spent time and our hard-earned tax money to battle the very people who work daily to provide an excellent service to the citizens. This battle has been to stop justly earned cost-of-living raises and to even reduce other benefits.

    These public servants can only seek recourse through mediation because they are not allowed to strike, and I am sure that they would never entertain that thought either. I am speaking of the ongoing battle between our firefighters and paramedics and the city management.

    If memory serves me correctly, it was just in 2002-2003 that the contract negotiations with our firefighters and paramedics were at impasse. Well, here we are again. Why can't this issue be resolved without the constant bickering and posturing?

    Maybe it is not just about the money but about some major changes in the contract language that our firefighters and paramedics simply cannot live with. How about it, City Manager Bill Horne? Can't these issues be resolved before it costs the citizens more money?

    Bertram Hogan, Clearwater


    No winners in this standoff

    We as a state voted last year on Amendment 1. It was a small savings to us as individuals, but spoke volumes to the government entities that for years employed tax-and-spend practices without the more responsible saving for a rainy day.

    Now staring down the barrel of a true recession, cuts are required, but where to begin? Easy — governments always use police and fire. That always garners public interest. We raise our arms, yell no, and so the cycle continues.

    Narrow the focus to the city of Clearwater, a prosperous city for many years, enjoying the fruits of the economy. Building bridges the state would have funded if we exercised patience. Building a Beach Walk that was supposed to reel in the tourists, but to stay where? Now the downtown — beautiful, but empty; there is no draw and none on the way. Next up: the downtown marina and its ever increasing costs.

    The recession is here. The question is, how to lessen the blow? One would think the answer would be to halt infrastructure projects that are on the table. More responsible spending of discretionary funds: i.e., canceling unnecessary trips to Philadelphia with stays at the Ritz Carlton. Curtailing the perks upper level management receives.

    I see the constant strife between the city administration and its firefighters as a lose-lose situation. The city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in arbitration, unfair labor practices, unjust firings and discrimination, never winning and ill-advised by a Tampa law firm, Thompson, Sizemore & Gonzalez. All the firefighters can do is hold strong to what they were given previously.

    The City Council continues to turn a blind eye to the inequities placed on the firefighters by a city manager who can't avoid the win-at-all-costs mentality, working through the dirty hands of the censored fire chief.

    The union request to boycott Clearwater is a last resort to raise awareness. It has only happened in the state twice. This speaks volumes.

    The reality is, there is no winner here — not the city or its fire personnel, and most importantly, not the public.

    Carol Lewis, Holiday

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    Quote Originally Posted by letmeaxeyaz View Post
    Firefighterg, having followed the problems the Clearwater Firefighters have had with the city of Clearwater for a while now, am I correct in my understanding that it has been stated by city staff that it is the goal of the City Manager and Fire Chief to bankrupt and destroy Local 1158 ?
    That statement is unfortunatly true. City Manager Horne and Geer have said it over and over. Horne has even gone on to say that he did not feel that he had to deal with unions. Well I am sorry Mr. Horne, it is STATE LAW! Now that our brothers and sisters from around the state of Florida, soon to be nation wide, have lined up behind us, it will not happen. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support.

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    Firefighterg, I heard that your Mayor will not allow you guys to conduct a boot drive for the MDA. Word on the street is that they are going to arrest whoever does. Is that true?

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    Hmmm...

    Unfair labor practices aside, perhaps part of the problem with the lack of a new contract can be placed firmly on the Local. To wit, here are some of the items put forth by the union for the contract (from the local fish wrap).

    -Overtime pay, even when the person does not met requirements for OT (ie on duty training)

    -A daily, 2 hour lunch break (I assume this means out of service)

    -Daily coffee breaks (same as above)

    -No work what so ever, other then responses, on weekends and holidays.

    Come on now, you all cant be serious with this stuff. A 2 hour lunch break?


    I would hope that these items were just negotiation points. If not, you all need a serious dose of reality.

    Either way, the Local should be paying a bit more attention to what makes the paper. Sorry, but I'm sure those items make you all look like fools to John Q Taxpayer in the city of Clearwater.

    I know how they look to the rest of the county...
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    Dave1983,

    You ever hear the old saying, " don't believe everything you read?" The boycott that was unamously voted for by 26,000 firefighters in Florida, isn't solely due to the current contract negotiations. It has more to do with the illegal, unethitcal, unfair, and immoral treatment of firefighters by the city manager Horne and chief Geer. It also has more to do with the continuous waste of tax payers money, by the city,fighting fights it has and WILL lose. Now I will address your posts:

    You posted- "Overtime pay, even when the person does not met requirements for OT (ie on duty training)"

    The facts- We work 53 hours in a week. That is 13 more hours than the average person works. We do not receive overtime for that 13 hours. In the past, we negotiated that anything over 53 hours would be considered overtime. Not really sure what article you read that said that we wanted overtime for on duty training. Thats pretty ridiculous. We constantly train on duty without any expectations of getting overtime pay. We all understand that is included in our regular pay. The city has proposed to change our schedule whenever they want. How could anyone in the world agree to that! People have lives outside their city employment. That would ruin families!

    You posted- " A daily, 2 hour lunch break (I assume this means out of service)
    Daily coffee breaks (same as above)"

    The facts- We proposed a daily work schedule. A daily work schedule that we have had for approx 50 years. In that proposal was a lunch break. A short period of time during our 24 hour shift to eat, perform physical fitness, study, grocery shop, ect... That proposal NEVER included that we go out of service for meals or breaks. Our main goal is to serve the citizens of our community 24/7/365.

    You posted- " No work what so ever, other then responses, on weekends and holidays."

    The facts- " In a nutshell, the proposal said that we would continue to perform our daily duties, truck maintanence, station duties, station tours and public ed. It also went on to say that we understood that things came up and if they did, we would take care of business. This proposal came about because we have rarely trained on weekends/holidays for the past 50 years. The city arbitrarily changed a long standing past practice that is a term and condition of employment. Under state law they have to bargain that, but they just implemented it without bargaining. There is a pending grievance on this issue.

    You posted- "I would hope that these items were just negotiation points."

    The facts- EXACTLY! We never made any "demands" as the city says. We merely made contract proposals. This allowable under state law, statue 447. The one proposal that the city doesn't talk about, was our last one. We proposed to take a ZERO% raise with status quo contract language if the city manager and all his upper management gave back their very generous raises and bonuses. With Amendment 1, don't you think the city should have considered this? As you started out....Hmmm...

    Dave, by the way, thanks for getting educated on a subject you had no clue on. And congratulations on PSFR getting your tax passed. It would have been a shame if it didn't.

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