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Steve Nelson should resign from the school board

Original post made on Jun 19, 2015

As community leaders, as parents and teachers of students in the Mountain View Whisman School District, and as taxpayers we have watched with heightened concern how district board member Steven Nelson's disrespectful, erratic and abusive behavior sabotages the district. We call upon Steven Nelson to resign from his elected position, as he has become a severe liability to our students and our community.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 19, 2015, 12:00 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by Thank you!
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Thank for your highlighting the way Mr. Nelson's outrageous behavior has impacted the staff and students of this district along with the entire community. Mr. Nelson, do the right thing - step down as soon as possible.

Posted by Monta Loma mom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 19, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I could not agree more with every word of this letter and appreciate you writing it. I've watched him in meetings in absolute horror-- his behavior is unacceptable.

Sadly, I fear Mr. Nelson is loving all the attention. Self-aggrandizing personalities adore being able to see themselves as victims. But let's try everything we can before being forced into recall mode.

Posted by Concerned voter
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm

I ABSOLUTELY agree. I ask that Steve Nelson step down immediately. If he cares so much about the district and the students, then he should do the right thing and step down. The recall effort, and there will be a recall, is an expensive and time consuming activity. It will cost the district both in direct dollars to conduct and in social capital. Make no mistake, Nelson will not survive a recall - but if he stays on, he WILL continue to disrupt and deteriorate our schools.

Posted by DI Mom
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 19, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Please resign, Mr. Nelson. While I love that you are willing to fight for those less privileged, and everyone needs a champion, I think we can do much better with someone who knows how to work with others. I was disgusted to learn that over $200,000 earmarked for children in our community left with our previous superintendent due to your behavior. I teach my children DAILY to respect others and play nice. If you cannot change your behavior, which based on your previous censure, etc., you have not done, it is time for you to take a time out. If you are really concerned about children in this community, please step out of this with decorum, and do not waste our precious time, energy, and district money trying to have you removed. I agree with many of your views, but I do not support how you behave. We, as parents and concerned citizens, deserve better representation.

Posted by Where's the beef
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Ms. Blakely make a lot of charges but fails to back them up.

"School principals refuse to bring their students to school board presentations for fear that Nelson's disrespect and abusive language will negatively influence them."

how about an example?

"Teachers, staff, parents, and other board members are fearful of his outbursts. ".

So what , and how about an example?

The work of a school board is complex. In the best of situations, school boards must make difficult, and sometimes unpopular, decisions to open and close schools and to prioritize the allocation of limited funds among competing goals using imperfect information. Nonetheless, the role of the school board is to guide the district in making the best choices possible given the available information. To do this, the board must work collaboratively with district personnel and the community.

Again , a nice specific example could help here.

I have never met Mr. Nelson , but Ms. Blakelys smear of him without providing specific examples is poor communication. How does she expect someone to accep her allegations without providing examples

Posted by Hamburger
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:25 pm

If you have paid attention AT ALL you would see all of the examples you are asking for. Trustee Nelson bullies parents, administrators, and staff from the dias and even comes into the audience during the recesses to shout at parents. Ms. Blakely is not smearing Trustee Nelson, she is speaking out.

Posted by @ what's the beef
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I suggest you watch some of the videos of the board meeting that are available on the district's website. The incidents are very commonplace so it shouldn't be too hard to find them.

As a person who has attended meetings, I can tell you that when Mr. Nelson is on rant it is terrifying. He stands over people in a threatening manner while yelling at them. That is very scary. He has yelled profanities at staff members. That's bit how you want a board member to act.

Posted by Are you kidding
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Spin, spin,spin!!! Six of the seven comments are clearly PACT. Come on Laura Blaky, Margart Abe-Koga all Pact supporters. I agree with a resent post.

Superintendent are you getting this yet!!

Posted by @Are you kidding
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:59 pm

So what did Steve Nelson pay you to post that?

Or is that actually you, Steve?

In any case -- Nelson should resign. NOW.

Posted by @ are you kidding
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 7:04 pm

Wow! New record. Anti- PACT in only seven posts. I was one of the posters of the comments and I have absolutely nothing to do with PACT. This isn't about PACT. This is about a person serving on the board of this school district who is harming all of the students with his threatening behavior. That person needs to resign now.

Posted by Consideringprivateschool
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 19, 2015 at 7:29 pm

I voted for Steve Nelson. I'm sorry I did. I've talked with the man and he is not a bad person. But he can not admit he is wrong and he is deeply passionate about what he believes in. But he has no communication skills and can not compromise. He ends up yelling and bullying out of frustration. I believe he may be on the autistic spectrum, and so I try to be understanding, but it's gone too far.

I would love a school in Whisman or Slater, but I have no problem with pact. I do not want this war-like atmosphere where money is wasted and nothing gets done. Please Steve, leave before a lot of money gets spent on a recall.

Posted by Do not shat on PACT
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm

There's no need! The school district is rolling in dough! Next year's budget is up 14% in revenue from the state. $1000 extra per student. Shoreline Regional Community District funding is also up. They're bound to increase the parcel tax revenue. Money just keeps rolling in. Expect a check for an extra $3,000,0000.00 or so money on funding for this past year! THey're finally starting to payback the deferred funding from back to 2009. Some of this will continue for future years (more payback) as well as future year's base funding steadily increasing per student. But $3,000,000.00 or so extra funding is about to be in hand.

So maybe just maybe open a 2nd PACT program at Slater or Whisman rather than moving the one you already have. I mean, isn't the idea to get back some private school students? If you got back 1000 of the 2000 who are in private schools, you'd be getting an extra $8 Million in funding each year. That's surely enough to open not one but TWO more new schools. Don't be so narrow in focus. There's every change the district students will grow, especially if more magnet programs were to be offered. 2000 students is a lot to draw from in terms of increasing public school attendance. Why LASD only has about 1400 in private schools. Why not expect to match that? People are already moving to MVWSD just because of the excellent schools. Don't forget MVLA. That draws students in too. Private High School is really very expensive.

Posted by Member
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Leave private school, for MVWSD I think not.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 19, 2015 at 10:01 pm

@ Where's the beef:

I know that the picture painted in the article sounds extreme, but that is why people are asking for the resignation: because the behavior has been extreme. I imagine that Laura B. did not include examples because there was limited space on the page.

As a matter of fact, the principal of Graham Middle School declined to bring students with her to a board meeting because of Mr. Nelson.

Also, I can tell you that I have seen Mr. Nelson act angrily and intimidatingly at a PTA meeting that he was visiting. He apparently has done it at a number of schools.

People are afraid to use their correct names on this blog because they don't want him tracking them down and harassing them.

None of this is made up. It takes many hours to watch all of these board meeting, but if you did it, you would see what other people see. A school board should be able to research ideas, work together for solutions, and move a district forward. Right now it can't.

Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 19, 2015 at 11:14 pm

why would you pull your children out of a private school and move them into a brand new school with unknown performance?

Posted by Private schools
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2015 at 1:06 am

Well, the problem with Private Schools is that they cost a bunch of money. Someone might save $15,000 a year when deciding to give it a go at a new public school that were to open in their neighborhood. So, yeah, they might make the switch. Or what if they buy a home in the new place (for them). Then the commute to the private school might be further than before and more time consuming or inconvenient for other reasons like the parent working at a new job.

But more importantly, each year a bunch of kids enter Kindergarten. They have to start somewhere. If they have a nearby school with their neighbors attending, there is a reason to give that school a try. If the school is with their neighbors but is a mile away with mostly kids that live over there, there is less reason. Especially if some of the good friends nearby are choosing a private school because the public school is not close by their home. It would kind of snowball.

The bottom line is there are only so many kids who live fairly close to any school location. Having more locations of active schools means more kids who live close and have that to fight against the idea of Private school.

But what the heck, maybe there's no connection that half the city is in a jumbled mess of school assignments. Maybe that has nothing to do with why so many go to private. But you could try and see what the effect might be. I sure don't think having FEWER local schools is the key to retaining attendance in the public schools.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 20, 2015 at 9:18 am

Many people are now leaving pubic schools because of common core. Plain and simple.

Posted by Laura Blakely
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2015 at 9:26 am

@Where's the Beef--the examples are myriad, but Parent was correct in that we had a 600 word limit and so had to pare, pare, pare. Do attend the board meetings or watch online at this link Web Link and judge for yourself. We were more specific in our comments delivered at the beginning of the June 18 meeting which will be posted online on June 22. For the good of our community and ALL the kids in the District (my boys attended Landels and Graham), I continue to urge Trustee Nelson to resign.

Posted by Board Meetings
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Whatever these criticisms are, it is sounding like a lot of them had to do with poorly conducted board meetings. A member allegedly screaming without the chairman doing anything? Doesn't he have a gavel? Maybe he should get one. Maybe the chairman just needs to yell back asking for decorum. Allowing audience members to talk to a board member during a meeting? Then supporting their position? Hey, it doesn't matter what they were saying, they aren't supposed to be talking.

It sounds like the board chairman was too timid to property control the meetings. Similary the other board members have the ability to say, "We Hear you, but it's not the time to go on and on." Just letting one board member talk and talk and drag things out isn't going to change the vote if he is on the opposite end of the decision from the other 4 on the board.

Posted by Cfrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 21, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Cfrink is a registered user.

@Board Meetings,

The Board President shouldn't have to be a Hall Monitor. The last person a Board President should have to chastise is another Board Member. The reality is that this Board needs to come together and either decide to do the work of the people, of the community, of our school aged children, or step aside so that we can elect folks who will. I don't have a preference on which one happens. I just want the outcome, which is an education focused Board. All this silly squawking about PACT this and Whisman that is not central to our mission....first of which is to provide the best possible education for our children. We've got the means and opportunity to meet that goal. Then we can move on to some of our other pressing questions, namely how to modernize our current schools, open a school in the Whisman Slater neighborhood without upsetting the balance of the district, and looking toward the future so that we may continue to improve the effectiveness of our educational programs district wide.

This is the conversation we should all be having. We should be the adults here, not acting like reality TV personalities. C'mon people, let's get it together.

Posted by Meeting Chairman
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm

The job of the chairman of a meeting is precisely to be a sort of monitor. Time limits, who speaks when, that's all under the control of the chairman.

As for all of the other board members, the way to calm down someone with a discordant view is to repeat back to them their view and tell them they have been heard, and then go ahead and express any disagreeing view. When you have a minority view in a committee, this can be important. Refusal to engage at all causes problems. Steve Nelson has some views that are shared by others. He's feeling it's his duty to express them, even as he is being inappropriate in doing so. Turning the meeting toward blaming his style for the views expressed is not good for anyone, and you might expect it to increase his inappropriate emphasis.

Posted by @ meeting chairman
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Have you actually watched Nelson in action at a board meeting? If not, I suggest you do. The chair person has tried everything possible to keep Nelson under control. It is impossible for anyone. He interrupts constantly, raises his voice frequently and makes threats.

Posted by Where's the beef
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm

So Ms Blakely prefers to rant and rave rather than provide one specific example of Mr. Nelson's bad behavior. Granted you had 600 words but chose not to provide one specific example. The one example reported in another Voice article was his complaint about the composition of a committee. Hard to see how this involved bullying. Maybe some peoepl are just thin-skinned about receiving criticism. Lets hope you do a better job of communication if your group decides to spend the money to oust Mr. Nelson of his final year.

I agree with Meeting Chairman, it is the responsibility of the chair to run the meetings. Maybe the others are weak. What are Coladanato and Wheeler doing? Do they complain that they are not getting work done? I have observed Mr. Nelsons boorish behavior at council meetings. I don't think he bullied or intimidated any council members. He was simply ignored.

Posted by Examples
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Examples of Trustee Nelson's bad behavior that I have seen: During recess breaks of board meetings he comes into the audience and shouts at parents who have made comments. He interrupts his fellow trustees frequently. Just last week, he refused to allow a budget for the construction program manager to pass even though he was asked by Dr. Skelly to provide feedback ahead of time and didn't give any feedback. He actually said, "You can pass it only with my modifications." He knew they needed a unanimous vote (because only 3 board members were present) so he used that opportunity to try to force his will. It is not about criticism, it is about bullying and obstructionism.

If you attend or watch the meetings, you will see examples like this, and more, for yourself.

Posted by Recall Reality
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 22, 2015 at 1:41 am

What are the laws on recalls? I read somewhere that it would take 20% of registered voters to place it on the ballot. If so, wouldn't that be something like 8,000 live signatures? Good luck. And then $200K (?) for a special election?

The guy serves one more year. Focus on the 2016 election, and in the meantime, have a strong president run an orderly meeting. If bylaws allow it, have a sergeant-at-arms remove an unorderly board member. If it's not in the bylaws, vote it in. Maybe it's difficult, but this board can do more than it's done to control its meetings.

PS - Here's just one example of a school board using a sergeant-at-arms:
Web Link

Posted by @ Recall reality
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 22, 2015 at 8:36 am

Mr. Nelson has already cost this district well over $250,000 considering the settlement to Goldman and then the superintendent search. Give him another 18 months and who know how many more settlements will be given. I know several people who have excellent grounds to file sexual harassment lawsuits against his as well for which the district would not doubt have to pay. The cost of a recall election is nothing compared to that.

Posted by Jenny L
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 22, 2015 at 11:27 am

I am a north Whisman resident. After watching all the Video, I am horrified. As a parents of two, a long residents of Mountain View, there is no way I can endure this kind of board member in our school district. Whatever Steve Nelson is standing behind, this is not the kind of behavior we should show the kids of our community. I will closely follow this, whatever it needs to be done, I will join wholeheartedly to get him out of our school board.

Posted by Steve Nelson's Ego
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

The specific examples of Steve Nelson's behavior are all on video and they are atrocious. He's an embarrassment to himself mostly, but he is a monetary liability to the school board with his childish(young child at that) behavior.

Step down or not, one day we'll be rid of him and we'll all be better off without his buffoonery .

Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 22, 2015 at 11:48 pm

USA is a registered user.

I spot-checked several videos at Web Link In 30 or so minutes total time, I saw Nelson being a bit of a twit but did not see anything that could be construed as bullying. Could someone point to a specific video and time frame on that video?

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 23, 2015 at 12:34 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

My previous comment on this issue should have been moved here. Since the Voice did not do it, I will:

Sigh. It looks like Skelly and Nelson should have left at the same time. Both know how to create a lot of damage in a short time.
You have the rules, just a problem with enforcing them.

Use Robert's Rule of Order. Post a Sergeant Of Arms. Elect a Chairman.
Use these meeting tools to force Nelson to remain civil or be removed from the meeting by the Sergeant Of Arms.

You have the MVPD. USE THEM! They are supposed to stop bullying people like Nelson from disrupting meetings.

That is what I learned at Foothill College when I took a course on DEBATE.

After Nelson gets frog-marched out of the room several times, he might get the message that his behavior will not be tolerated in any forum, public or private.

A Blackwell, MVHS Class of 1973


This Steve Nelson acts a lot like the Steve Nelson I used to know at Cray Research. When I was asked to join his Design Team, I publicly stated : " Steve Nelson couldn't design his way out of a paper bag ". Many people in our design group felt the same way, but were just more diplomatic ( the old definition of Political Correctness ) about saying the same thing.

Posted by Enough Already
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 23, 2015 at 1:48 pm

For anyone new to issues surrounding Nelson it helps to look at his long history of disruptive behavior.

Here's a links to two Articles in the Voice concerning his censure:

<Nelson walks out as school board votes to censure him> Web Link

<Is censure enough for Steven Nelson?> Web Link

Here's a link to the Board meeting from Oct 3, 2014 beginning at the censure discussion. I strongly recommend people watch.
Web Link

If you watch long enough, you will see even Nelson say "I agree there are some things I should be censured for".

The hope of the board (and community) was that he would amend his disruptive behavior and become a productive member of the board. That hasn't happened.

Now, Chris Chiang has resigned in disgust and Stevenson PACT's principal, Tyler Graff is leaving as well. How many other good people do we need to lose?

I personally couldn't imagine serving on the board with him.

It is time for him to step down.

Posted by logical mom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 26, 2015 at 2:06 am

Completely unacceptable behavior! Any person in attendance at a board meeting who is not behaving in a respectful and civilized manner may be dismissed from the meeting and penalized accordingly. ZERO TOLERANCE!

Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 26, 2015 at 6:02 am

@logical mom of Waverly Park
You suggested:
"Completely unacceptable behavior! Any person in attendance at a board meeting who is not behaving in a respectful and civilized manner may be dismissed from the meeting and penalized accordingly. ZERO TOLERANCE!"

I would say the same thing, but we must then accept that NONE of the current Board Trustees would be able to continue long enough in any Board meeting to get to any votes on anything. And give how Nelson totally ignores the rest of the Board and speakers and parents, he would need to be physically removed from the room and physically locked-out. I wonder what the job of "Sergent of Arms" would pay?

I guess doing nothing at all would indeed be better than what has been going on since the start of 2013 and made a bit worse at the start if 2015.

Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 26, 2015 at 6:22 am

@Jenny L of North Whisman

YOU have the ONLY POWER able to fix this problem, but you must take action!

The ONLY people who are able to get Trustee Nelson's attention, the ONLY
people who can get him to RESIGN are the families of Whisman/Slater.

Nelson will totally ignore ANYONE ELSE, ONLY the W/S parents who come to the podium, identify themselves as being from the W/S, saying they want Nelson to resign, telling Nelson that his behavior is HURTING the very people he claims to speak for. Tell him from the podium that his methods are simply making his opponents stronger and more determined to defeat ANYTHING he wants at any cost.

Nelson is making ALL Whisman/Slater people look like his personal puppets just doing his bidding and saying what every lies he wants them to say to serve his one-track agenda.

Nelson's attitude is that you W/S advocates are incompetent to speak for yourselves. That you cannot think for yourselves and that ONLY Nelson s capable of knowing what's best for all of you and ONLY Nelson can get it for you and that Nelson believes that he can and should do anyting and everything he can think of to bully anyone if h even thinks it might get hin what he wants.

"I am a north Whisman resident. After watching all the Video, I am horrified."

I BEG you to write up a CLEAR speech and come to the final Board Meeting on Tuesday the June 30th and MAKE him look you in the eye and tell him to resign for the good of Whisman/Slater.

As long as he sits on the Board, your interests are held hostage by Nelson and everyone who has had more than enough of him will raise up and fight him every step of the way.

"As a parents of two, a long residents of Mountain View, there is no way I can endure this kind of board member in our school district. Whatever Steve Nelson is standing behind"

Then go speak and tell Nelson to resign NOW, find others from Whisman/Slater to do the same. ONLY you and the people who live in your area can fix this problem. The rest of us are totaly ignored by Nelson.

I would offer a free car-pool to anyone from the reopen Slater or Whisman groups who will come to the podium and tell Nelson to RESIGN ad then, I'll gladly take us all out for a nice dinner to discuss who else we can get to talk to him face to face to get him to resign.

Posted by More Than Enough
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

Every meeting could begin with public comments not on the agenda including somebody re-reading Laura Blakely's speach from Wednesday night. And when Chris calls asking you to support the recall, please do so.

Posted by Careful there
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Enough Already - I don't remember Mr. Graff listing Nelson as a reason for leaving. If you can back that comment up, then please do. Lots of people move between districts but that doesn't mean they are all related to one individual's behavior.

It's also worth noting that Goldman wasn't exactly the district's pride and joy either. Lest we forget the way he treated teachers when they were trying to get a pay increase to cope with cost of living increases and how he helped bring negotiations to a screeching, work-to-rule halt.

Did I read that we are losing around the same money per week due to design/construction delays that we payed out once to Goldman? Not saying either is great, just that the district's problems may be bigger than Nelson.

If not his behavior, it would be interesting to see more specifics of what the Voice agrees with Nelson on.

Posted by Far From It
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Actually Mr Graff listed a very plausible reason for changing jobs to a school in San Francisco. He lives in San Francisco. He had been commuting each day from San Francisco to Mountain View to work. A change in employer reduced his commute considerably.

Do people really not know this?

Posted by Alex LOpez
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 30, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Nelson sets a horrid example for the district and community. There is no way for some that is voted in to this position to be put in a role of leadership who lacks the common sense to treat others with respect: Other board members as well as the community. An elected official is elected to serve the community not feed one's own ego and personal agenda. It is a mistake to put a position of leadership or power with someone who cares only for his position above the needs of the community. Nelson's narcissism and consumption of himself not only hurts the other board members but affects our school district as a whole and most importantly our children! Since Nelson can't play well with others he needs to be ejected from his position immediately!

Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 1, 2015 at 5:33 am

Nelson wont resign now, he already WON!!!!

Nelson and Coladonato have already taken $30million from the district and locked it away for the exclusive use of building a new Slater School no mater what damage it will do.

Slater gets $30million lock-box funding, Stevenson NOT on any list to get any Measure-G money.

Just what they always wanted, vast amounts of money to reopen Slater and NO money at all for even basicsafety repairs for Stevenson.

Explain why Stevenson is NOT even on the list of schools to get ANY of the Measure-G money for critical repairs or any upgrades at all!

And yet the Slater Advocates on the Board (Nelson and Coladonato) have taken $30million out of the general fund and tied it up in a reserve fund for the exclusive purpose of building a new district standard 450-600 school in Whisman/Slater.

Slater gets well over $30million, Steven gets ZERO, yeah those "greedy"...
wait, WHO is being greedy?

Slater assured $30million budget already and Stevenson ZERO, yeah, see, that proves how "greedy" the Stevenson families are we want NOTHING from Measure-G and would be happy with NO construction MONEY at all. See, there is the proof of how greedy the Stevenson families are....uh,,huh? Did I read that right?

The $30million the Board voted to be specifically set aside in a special reserve account for the Slater School at the above Board meeting didn't even get mentioned in this article. (That $30million number is rounding down.)

That seems very odd, since this huge Slater set-aside also takes away from district funds which could be spent on other things.

The Slater School now has a $30million budget (which is 3/4 the budget of the whole Castro 2-school project) and yet still Stevenson is NOT even on the LIST of schools getting construction money.

Well, I guess if that's the price the Board decides we must pay to stay at Stevenson, we'll find a way to make due with what we have. As long as we can stay where we are, we will find a way to survive until the next bond measure, whatever year that may come in

Posted by Running again?
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Rumor has it that Nelson is going to renege on his pledge to not run again this year. We need to let him know that he has no chance of being elected again. He has done enough damage to MVWSD.

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