Maine GOP Plays Musical Chairs, as Republicans Name Rick Bennett 3rd Party Head Since November

Posted on July 23, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bennettOver the weekend, the Maine Republican Party selected current Trucost board member, former board member of the Maine Heritage Policy Center and co-Senate President Rick Bennett of Norway as their third chair since last year. Via MRP press release:

      The Maine Republican Party State Committee has elected former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett, as the new Chairman of the Maine Republican Party.

    The vote, cast by the party’s 77-person state committee, demonstrated broad support from all areas of the Republican Party, with a majority of members from across the party’s diverse areas pledging support for Bennett in advance and an even greater number delivering votes the day of the election.

    “The Maine Republican Party is ready to make the case to the people of Maine that the liberal leadership and policies of Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves are bad for the Maine people, bad for Maine’s small businesses, bad for Maine’s economy, and bad for the generations of Mainers who will inherit our decisions,” Mr. Bennett said.

    Susan Morissette from her "For the People" website, poses with Bruce Poliquin. 'Nuff said.

    Susan Morissette from her “For the People” website, poses with Bruce Poliquin. ‘Nuff said.


    “It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work electing Republicans who will grow Maine’s economy, protect Maine’s small businesses, control the size and scope of government and give the next generation of Mainers a stronger, more prosperous Maine than we inherited,”
    Mr. Bennett concluded.

    In addition to electing Mr. Bennett as new party Chairman, the Maine Republican State Committee also elected former State Representative and current Kennebec County Republican Chair Hon. Susan Morissette as new Vice Chair.

Morisette previously served one term as HD 54 Representative of Winslow before losing her re-election bid to Catherine Nadeau.

gop-splitBut one needs a scorecard to keep up with all of the scandals, claims of manipulation/ disregard of party rules (see RNC2012), changes in leadership and controversies in the Maine Republican Party since 2010- oh, how the party of Margaret Chase Smith and Bill Cohen has fallen in recent years!

When Paul LePage first was elected Governor in 2010, Maine also witnessed both State House chambers go from blue to red- the first time that the state had gone to Republican control in both the Executive and Legislative branches in over 40 years. It heralded a time of devastating party splintering and questionable ethics such as the state had never before seen and was part of a much larger picture nationally.

The chair of the Maine Republican Party at the time, Charlie Webster, claimed much of the credit for the flip, But then… well… Charlie Webster quickly went from being “the man” to being “Crazy Uncle Charlie, that guy that has to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner”, telling more and more wild tales:

June 2011: Democrats “steal elections” via same day registration:

    “If you want to get really honest, this is about how the Democrats have managed to steal elections from Maine people,” Webster told a columnist for the Portland Press Herald in a piece published Friday. “Many of us believe that the Democrats intentionally steal elections.”

July 2011: Webster claimed that UMF College Republicans “parked their vans” on Election Day in 2010, as to prevent students getting to the polls, and submitted a list of 206 names to then Secretary of State Charlie Summers to investigate for voter fraud:

None was found and the accusations/ witch hunt resulted in national attention.

Sept 2011: Webster, still determined that SOME fraud had indeed occurred, insisted that “Canadians were able to come across the border and vote illegally”:

    “Do we want people who live in a motel deciding who we send to the state legislature when they never vote again in Maine?” he asked. “Do we want people who are illegal aliens — illegal Americans — from Canada or another state? … Do we want them influencing our elections?”

LD 1373, “An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process”, was introduced by Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples) that was passed by the GOP-led 125th Legislature and supported by Secretary of State Charlie Summers and signed law by Governor Paul LePage, went to referendum in November- and was soundly smacked down by Maine voters by a 60-40 margin:


    “Maine voters sent a clear message: No one will be denied a right to vote,” said Shenna Bellows, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “Voters in small towns and big cities voted to protect our constitutional right.”

    “We felt good coming in and we knew we had run a better campaign,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said. “It feels good to get a win but this isn’t the last vote of 2011, it’s the first of 2012. We need to take this momentum into next year.”

Nov 2012: Grant’s statement of the Rich Cebra sponsored bill LD 1376’s 2011 defeat being the “first vote of 2012” proved true, as Democrats regained control of both legislative chambers.

maine-gop-chair-suspicious-of-dozens-of-black-votersCharlie Webster then announced that he would not seek re-election and held an interview with WCSH’s Don Carrigan and still determined that there was indeed voter fraud occurring within the state, claimed that it was being committed by “dozens of black people” travelling into towns. The story garnered more national headlines and Webster later apologized for his remarks.

Then the termed-out of the Legislature Rich Cebra came in as the new party chair, somehow managed to make an even bigger mess than the one he had found time and time and time again… and promptly left- after seven months with no warning.

Cebra_ethicsOn July 3, news broke that Maine Republican Party Chair and former Rep. Rich Cebra abruptly stepped down from his position as head of the party amid multiple controversies, and that his Vice Chair Beth O’Connor had given notice a few days’ prior as well. O’Connor originally planned to run against Cebra for the top slot, but chose at the time to pull her name before the vote.

From Dec 2012:

    “It’s a new day in Maine,” said Cebra, who praised O’Connor’s withdrawal as a sign that the Maine Republican Party “is a unified party that works.” He said he planned to focus initially on “ground work,” building the party’s base by strengthening local and county committees.

    John Frary, a committee member and party stalwart from Farmington, described O’Connor’s withdrawal as “a noble gesture for party unity.”

So much for that idea!

Rep Rich Cebra of Naples, who also served from Dec 2012 to July 2013 as MRP Chair before abruptly resigning.

Rep Rich Cebra of Naples, who also served from Dec 2012 to July 2013 as MRP Chair before abruptly resigning.

    “Cebra has been a big disappointment,” Vic Berardelli, a Republican state committee member from Penobscot County and chairman of the Maine Republican Liberty Caucus, said by phone Wednesday. “I stuck my neck out and lost some good friendships in my efforts to get Rich Cebra elected as Maine Republican Party chairman. He did not have the management and fundraising ability or people skills to bring factions together.”

About that fundraising and money management… one wonders what the numbers actually DO show!

More previous reaction from Charlie Webster and Bruce Poliquin:

    Webster said he had heard a couple of days ago that Cebra might resign, but he said he didn’t know why and had no other information.

    Among those eyeing the job is former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who said he is considering the post after being approached by a number of people asking him to take the job. Poliquin is also considering running in the 2014 2nd District congressional race, now that Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud is likely going to challenge LePage in next year’s gubernatorial election.

    “It’s a very difficult job and it’s important to be able reach out to all factions of the Republican party to make sure our message gets out about limited government and more economic growth and more jobs for Maine families,” he said. “It’s critical to get that message out. I’m sure we’ll find somebody who can do that.”

So, here’s the mess that Webster and Cebra left for Bennett- time will tell as to what he chooses to do- or even CAN do- with it.

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Maine Governor Paul LePage Vetoes LD 1546, Medicaid Expansion Bill (Video)

Posted on May 24, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

At a Hall of Flags ceremony surrounded by GOP legislators, Governor LePage on Thursday signed the letter to veto LD 1546, characterizing LD 1546, “An Act to Strengthen Maine Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract,” as “tied payment of the hospital debt to welfare expansion” and then announced plans to reintroduce his own bill in its place.

    “Democrat leadership has spent the past week forcing this bill through the legislative process, over the objections of Republicans and Democrats alike. This unadulterated partisanship tied two different issues together in a quest to force welfare expansion upon the Maine people. I have said all along this bill would receive a veto when it reached my desk, so this letter should be no surprise.

    That is why I have filed a Governor’s bill today reflecting the parts of LD 1546 we all agree on—paying the hospitals and ensuring the liquor business provides the best return for the state—without the forced expansion of MaineCare. The Legislature will have the opportunity to vote up or down to pay the hospitals—I trust you will do the right thing.”

Press secretary Adrienne Bennett provided copies to the press of the letter the Governor read.

lepage veto lettr

The governor then informed those assembled of his plans to continue to hold the voter-approved bonds hostage unless his bill is passed through the Legislature, in what a press release categorized “a gesture of good faith”:

    The Governor also directed the State Treasurer to prepare the voter-authorized bonds for his signature. “I will sign them as soon as this new Governor’s Bill is enacted,” the Governor stated.
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ME Republican Party; Maine Wire Call Out 126th Dem Leaders- for Doing What 125th GOP & Others Before Them Did

Posted on May 3, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(Since the admonitions given in this earlier post “Hey Dave- Thanks Bunches For Illustrating Again Why Maine Dems Won BIG In November. Now, Shush!” were ignored and wonkiness/ out-and out, bald-faced lying seem to be the modus operandi of the Right this year, I decided to channel some GOP flavor for this post. ~AP)

—–

Oh, those “Liberal Elitists in Augusta”– Governor LePage just today tried to warn us all about them! Now, look at the no-good, very bad thing they did!

Gasp and swoon!!

Via Maine Wire:

Governor LePage's "Liberal Elitists in Augusta" (aka Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves) once again refuse to provide Maine with a plan to pay off Maine's hospital debt. NOTE: Completely ignore, as the Maine Wire and Maine GOP do,  the information behind the nefarious pair of no-goodniks!

Governor LePage’s “Liberal Elitists in Augusta” (aka Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves) once again refuse to provide Maine with a plan to pay off Maine’s hospital debt. NOTE: Completely ignore, as the Maine Wire and Maine GOP do, the information behind the nefarious pair of no-goodniks!

    State Democratic leaders have suspended a rule providing for transparency in the proceedings of the Legislature.

    Senate President Justin L. Alfond (D-Cumberland) and Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick) informed lawmakers in an email Wednesday that they are suspending the public notice requirement for advertising public hearings.

    “Effective today, the notice requirement for advertising public hearings for bills that are referred to committee after May 3rd is waived entirely,” the Democratic leaders wrote in an email to state lawmakers.

    Suspending the public notice requirement will make it difficult for Maine citizens to monitor the progress of bills in Augusta and attend public hearings to voice their concerns.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette had the following reaction:

Minority Leader Fredette turns away from the awful badness that is House Speaker Mark Eves and looks to the far right instead for guidance.

Minority Leader Fredette turns away from the awful badness that is House Speaker Mark Eves and looks to the far right instead for guidance.

    “This is symptomatic of some of the problems we’ve been seeing in committees,” said House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport). “Add to that Democrats continuing to use the one big thing we all agree on, the hospital bill, as a bargaining chip and a lack of credible solutions coming from them on balancing the budget, and we’re bound to have a very rushed final two months of session,” Fredette said.

Assistant Minority Leader Alec Willette concurred:

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

    Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton) said the Democrat’s decision does not bode well for the creation of sound public policy.

    “Anytime you stop advertising public hearings, you’re hindering the public’s ability to weigh in on important issues and, as a result, hindering our ability to craft good public policy,” he said.

As both Fredette and Willette are on their second term in the House, they KNOW what this is about; they know what has happened in the past. This is such a marked difference from the transparency and procedure of the past GOP-led 125th Legislature!

So it was no WONDER that a fuming Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage this week shot off a quick response in the form of an email blast, to alert the public of these shameless shenanigans, complete with quotes from equally shocked and horrified former Maine Legislative member Rich Cebra.

Here is their press release:

    MAINE GOP: DEMOCRATS SUSPEND TRANSPARENCY, TIP HAND FOR REST OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION
    Back-loaded session now ripe for Dems to ram contentious bills through while denying Maine people a voice

    AUGUSTA – The Maine Republican Party is speaking out about a dangerous and disrespectful situation created by Democratic leadership in the Maine Legislature.

    Yesterday, a memo from Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves notified legislators that the Maine Legislature would be suspending rules requiring public notification for public hearings.

    The memo also indicated that the Democratic majority had only voted 50% of their bills out of committee with about 2 weeks to go until the deadline.

    CebraColor“Democrats took time to try to sell the Governor’s house, ban teenage girls from going tanning for prom, and a host of other petty and low priority bills, but they have failed to do the work they were sent to Augusta to do,” said Maine GOP Chairman Richard M. Cebra.

    “With just a few weeks remaining in the session, it is now clear that Democrat leadership has either completely failed to lead, or has intentionally back-loaded the session to ram through bad and extreme public policy,” said Cebra.

    “The public deserves to know what their government is up to, and this action denies them that ability. The people of Maine are now in the dangerous position of being denied transparency on a back-loaded legislative session ripe for those who would ram bad and extreme policy down the throats of Maine people under the cloak of darkness. This political malpractice is unacceptable,” concluded Cebra.

    Full text of memo here. Maine Wire article here.

    ###

Oh, that is terrible! Awful! How dare they?!?

Hey, wait a minute… what? Could it be that the Maine Wire/ GOP is trying to score cheap political points out of nothing at all?

Nah… couldn’t be. Not those bastions of honesty and truth!

But, then how does one explain today’s media advisory?

Via Maine House Democrats:

    Enclosed please find a notice from the 125th Republican Legislature waiving the two-week time period for public hearing notices for bills referenced after a certain date. This week, Speaker Eves and President Alfond sent committee chairs a similar memo. This is a routine time-management tool used by past legislative leaders — Republicans and Democrats. Similar notices waiving the two-week notification period have occurred in the 125th, 124th, 123rd, 122, and 121st Legislatures. I’d be happy to provide a back log of those memos.

    Please note that public hearing notices are still required. They must be posted on the Legislature’s web site and in the committee room.

Cebra_ethicsSure; sounds like a party operative/ apologist, just trying to cover up for the Dems. One would like to remind the majority party that Maine Republican Party chair Rich Cebra was himself a member of those same 122, 123, 124 and 125th Legislatures.

So it stands to reason that if such notifications HAD been issued, he would certainly know about it!

Well, unless he were unethical, duplicitous or something really gawdawful like that. And goodness knows, that is NOT the case!

Where is your proof, Democrats?

Oh.

This.

Hmm… well, this is awkward!

125th GOP letter

Waiting for Ken Fredette, Alex Willette, Jason Savage, Rich Cebra and Steve Robinson to respond/ issue heart-felt apologies in 3… 2… 1…

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Hey Dave- Thanks bunches for illustrating again why Maine Dems won BIG in November. Now, Shush!

Posted on March 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Awhile ago, House GOP hatchet guy, er, communications director David Sorensen shared on Twitter a photo taken of yesterday’s Democratic leadership media availability press conference:

Here again is the entire press conference for context:

And who can forget Dave’s work during the last election cycle? He did such a great job in getting Tom Martin re-elected, huh?

Senator Lachowicz, who is seeing constituents today, sends her love, btw…

orc

Thanks bunches, guy!

Well, such is what happens when one captures a moment of time and tries to make a statement out of it, with none of those pesky supporting facts and such.
Certainly we on the left could do the same!

Let’s give it a try.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau lulls House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette to sleep with a soothing fairy tale told to Maine media... shush everyone, now!

Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau lulls House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette with a soothing fairy tale told to Maine media… shush, now!

See how this works? It is cheap political theater at best; mean-spirited nonsense at worst. It does nothing to work on the serious issues at hand; it doesn’t tell the truth of what is being said or done.

To quote the Governor from 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2009/2013, “It’s bullshit.”

Goodness knows, Sorensen is quite skilled at shaping conversations even against members of his own party!

Oh- such good times, good times. From last May:


    Two individuals have been identified as participating in this attempt to sow convention confusion. One is Maine House Majority Office Policy Aide David Sorensen, who reportedly nominated the fake Paul slate from the floor. Before and during the convention, Sorensen mocked the Paul people, who he termed “Ronulans,” on Twitter and implied that they believe conspiracy theories about the United Nations and black helicopters (which, to be fair, many of them do).

    paulPaul supporters fault Sorensen both for engaging in a dirty trick and for taking precious convention time with his actions and making the entire event take longer, possibly costing the state party extra money in rental fees for the Civic Center.

    “A lot of Republicans are making a fuss out of this, at least in Androscoggin County,” said Chris Dixon, a convention delegate who witnessed some of Sorensen’s actions and has written about them on Twitter and on a Ron Paul forum. “A bunch of us really want clarification on it, because here’s someone who’s directly employed by the party who’s doing a deliberate sabotage effort. He’s causing disarray for whatever reason and putting the Party on the hook for $20,000.”

    Sorensen, reached for comment, repeatedly and pointedly refused to discuss any aspect of the convention, including the actions of which he is accused.

Here is a clip, as to show the full context and not just a snapshot- it clearly discusses and illustrates the fraud mentioned above:

Memories… ah, back to the present. Another tweet sent out by Dave from yesterday:

But here’s the reality that the GOP doesn’t want Mainers to know or remember: The Democrats when in charge of the Legislature HAVE been paying down the hospital debt that occurred under the McKernan and King administrations, have been making solid payments for years and have not let up once on honoring their commitment!

From October 2006, this article penned by former Speakers of the House John Richardson and Hannah Pingree:

    For three administrations – two under an independent and one under a Republican

    – state government refused to pay hospitals back payments that were due to them. That was bad for local hospitals, all of which are non-profit and many of which are small community-supported organizations and the life center of health care for their regions.

    It was also bad for patients, who rely on hospitals’ continued coverage of Medicaid and Medicare patients. And the trickle-down impact of unpaid debts to hospitals goes even further, affecting the premiums we all pay for health insurance as hospitals have to increase charges to cover unpaid debts and charity care.

    Gov. John Baldacci inherited 11 years of unpaid debts on his first day in office. With a structural gap of $1.2 billion, demands for increased school funding, and many other legitimate and pressing needs competing for scant dollars, Gov. Baldacci might have been forgiven if he had let the unpaid debts go unpaid a little longer.

    Instead of taking the easy route, the governor showed his typical unrelenting commitment to fiscal responsibility by putting the state on a path to pay off these debts. As of this week, Maine has paid hospitals for all outstanding debts owed from 1992 to 2004. We have moved from 11 years in arrears to less than two years.

And what have the Democrats done since then? Oh, not much- wait a sec…

Via Maine House Democrats comes this information released to media yesterday:

    MYTH: Democrats don’t care about paying hospitals

    FACT: Maine has been steadily and increasingly paying down hospital debt for the past decade. Democrats strongly believe paying back the hospitals is a priority. That’s why we’ve been doing it for over a decade.

    · Maine has already paid back more than $3.7 billion to hospitals over the past decade.

    · From fiscal year 2005-2010, the combined state and federal settlement payments to hospitals totaled $742 million, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review. Under the LePage Administration, in fiscal year 2011-2013, hospitals will recoup $274.9 million in state and federal dollars.

    · Moreover, in an effort to prevent the debt cycle, Democrats led the change to a “pay as you go” system. The law changing the system was passed in 2009 before LePage took office. The change was fully implemented in 2010.

    o The 124th Legislature in PL 2009, Ch. 213 moved to abandon the Prospective Interim Payment (PIP) system of reimbursing hospitals which requires a settling up of bills after the fact with reimbursements based upon DRGs (Diagnostic Related Groupings) and APCs (Ambulatory Procedure Codes). APCs cover outpatient services provided by hospitals, DRGs are related to inpatient services. Both apply only to noncritical access hospitals. Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) continue to be reimbursed on at 107% of the Medicare rate for services. Title 22, § 3174 LL and MM contain the results of PL 2009, Ch. 213.

    o Move to DRGs

    o Move to APCs

settlesettle2

Hush now, Dave… Ken is sleeping!

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Maine Governor LePage’s State of the State Address… and the Silence of the Elephants

Posted on February 7, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

100_5149A smart political analyst once taught me an important lesson: “Don’t look for what IS being said but rather for what ISN’T being said.”

Never has that been more clear as to provide insight than in the deafening local Republican silence, post-Governor LePage’s State of the State address.

Case in point: Despite the best and multiple efforts of the Governor’s office in the hours preceding his address to drive forth usage of hashtag #MESOTS, 2 of his strongest allied sites, AsMaineGoes and MHPC/ The Maine Wire, failed to comply.

At all.

Here is the Governor’s missive, delivered at 10 am Tuesday morning:

The Maine Republican Party dutifully retweeted as per the previous instructions and MRP Chair Rich Cebra’s office, under the auspices of former Marden IT guy/ LePage right hand man Jason Savage, immediately sent out a supportive press release after the governor concluded his remarks.

Good boy, Jason. Get promotion.

But as mentioned earlier sometimes, what is most telling is not the conversations themselves- but what ISN’T being said.

Strangely enough, two of the Governor’s staunchest allies have been silent.

As Maine Goes has not had a single thread on the Governor’s address, not even on their public forum. And they have not tweeted since Monday- not a peep in reaction.

Here is their last tweet:

Guess “loyalty” isn’t a lesson your lapdog has mastered, eh Governor?

An aberration? Nope.

Maine Heritage Policy Council and their “online newspaper”, ‘The Maine Wire’, also have been absolutely completely and eerily silent. MHPC last gave the world via Twitter the following deeply profound and compelling insight into the minds to Maine’s conservative members and their interests, which their other Twitter account, er, independent online newspaper retweeted as their most recent pearl of wisdom:

Some days, ya can’t make this stuff up…

Seriously. Nothing since then at all, on all three of these twitter feeds and sites.

No RT shares of the Governor’s own very active Twitter account, no shared opinion pieces supporting LePage…

Nada.

One wonders why.

Nationally, there has been some strong reaction from formerly friendly conservative quarters, as DC based group Tax Foundation (pdf warning) blasted Governor LePage’s public admission that with his proposed budget, he is indeed increasing taxes, as reported in the Kennebec Journal (LePage Budget ‘sneaks’ tax increase) and Bangor Daily News (Taxation watchdogs accuse LePage of ‘stealth’ hike).

Just last October, this same group raised Maine’s business tax rating from 37th to 30th.

And it wasn’t just irate conservatives who interpreted LePage as meaning that taxes would indeed be raised. Ethan Strimling in the BDN had this: Did LePage just say he was willing to raise taxes?

    What strikes me is his inclusion and emphasis on “right now.” He could have easily said “Let’s not raise taxes” and left it at that. But he didn’t.

    And not only did he not leave “right now” out, he actually emphasized it. It struck me the moment he said it, and in watching the video I am more convinced.

    Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but that sure sounds like an opening to Democrats that he would be willing to consider revenues in the long term. Perhaps in exchange for tax cuts today.

A Portland Press Herald editorial called for rolling back the unfunded 125th Legislature’s tax cuts for the wealthy, sponsored by the Governor:

    “The last Legislature passed a huge tax cut, about $400 million over two years, which did not go into effect until January and has never been paid for. The size of the tax cut is roughly what cities and towns would lose without revenue sharing, the homestead exemption and other proposed program cuts.

    Delaying those income tax cuts would not raise taxes. It would keep them at the 2012 rate.”

The tone of the Governor’s address was uncharacteristically conciliatory and cordial; perhaps his finally meeting with the Democratic majority leaders the day before broke the ice for some real progress in Augusta.

But one wonders what whispered conversations are quietly going on behind closed doors…

hannibalAnd so the question must be asked: “Well, Cebra – have the elephants stopped screaming?”

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