” Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding the truth” ~ Karl Ludwig Borne

“…I know I can’t go back to working parallel to the real problems, hiding my opinions and yet somehow hoping that one viewer every night might piece together what I wanted to say. I thought if I paid my dues and worked my way up through the ranks, I could maybe reach a position of enough influence and credibility that I could say what I truly feel. I’ve realized there’s no time to wait. ”  ~ Kai Nagata, former CTV Bureau Chief, Quebec City, on Why he quit his job.

Powerful words from a young journalist who bravely bared his heart and soul to the world, after quitting his job at CTV- and nearly became famous for it. You may have already read it -his ‘manifesto’ went viral – but if you haven’t, grab a cup of coffee or a drink and take a few minutes to absorb and reflect at the link above. What Kai speaks to is a big problem for the media in this country, a media that is more and more often compromised by advertisers/profits/politics- take your pick. And in my opinion, Kai’s post became so big, so fast, because so many others like him working for news outlets across the country, felt exactly the same way. As he states in his follow up post 24 hours later : ” People are thirsty.”

We all have illusions, and when those illusions are shattered it can rock your world. My illusion, for the longest time, was that it is the duty- yes duty- of news outlets and journalists to report the truth, no matter what; to hold those in power at all levels accountable and to remain free of bias from any outside influence.

I’ve learned that is not always the case in this era where far too often profits are prioritized over journalistic excellence, ethics and integrity. It’s something that is never far from mind when I research and write, and I have hardly been the only one to talk about and question what has happened to the profession. In this post from last year, I refer to retired journalist  and fellow blogger, Harvey Oberfeld and his questions about influence, Sean Holman of Public Eye Online who examined a sponsorship deal involving government and our big local dailies.

And of course, more recently was a very revealing post written by Ian Reid, in which he speaks of the ‘club’ between local media personalities and local politicians, which of course matters because as Ian succintly states: ” The truth suffers.” If you don’t read these kind of revolutionary posts, you might not know that  “Bill Good( CKNW), Rick Cluff( CBC Radio Vancouver) and others share personal relationships with BC Liberal premiers, Cabinet members and MLAs.  They hang out.  They golf together.  They are personal friends.”

You might not know that Stephen Smart( bureau chief, CBC Victoria) is married to Rebecca Scott, who was a long time producer at CKNW and was most recently whisked away to Victoria by the former CKNW talk show host and new premier, Christy Clark as her communications director… but I’m sure none of these relationships and friendships and marriages could ever, ever, influence what or how something is reported in this province… right?

Ian’s post is key to understanding why some stories never see the light that could be shone on them by the mass audiences of the largest outlets in BC. And here is why:

“That could be the BC Rail story in a nutshell.  Much of the media was part of the strategy to sell from the beginning.  And they’re still a party to the cover-up.  The local Bell media clan – CTV and the Globe – were spoon fed by the prosecution with information that only supported the prosecution’s view that the full extent of the scandal is nothing but the actions of a small group of rogues.  And now the CTV newsroom staffs the Premier.

What’s worse is it’s not isolated.  The club brings the same vision to every story.  For every BC Rail story half hidden by the club there’s another two fully hidden.”

Isn’t that the truth.A serious matter when the current sitting premiers statements about her lack of involvement in the BC rail sale seem to be directly contradicted by the documents circulating on the net . But move along folks, nothing to see there, right?

And I think that last statement of Ian Reids might apply to far too many other stories as well. When I broke the Sea to Sky Shadow toll story, which became a series, it was first run by News1130, did a midnight run on the CKNW overnight news before being halted when the morning crew arrived.. and that was it. Nothing. A reporter from the Squamish paper did a couple stories on it, it went viral, and then nothing more in the media until Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail did a story that received national attention. There was proof, there were confidential, sensitive documents and there were outright lies written in emails from ministry of transportation PR reps, but there was no coverage from the biggest news outlets in BC. And I asked why, as did others.

Off the record, it came back to me that the shadow tolls on the Sea to Sky highway were old news to many in the media who knew about them back when the protests were happening at Eagleridge bluffs. Some of the protesters has discovered that ” vehicle usage payments” were part of the deal with the consortium financing it, and took it to the press, thinking the people of BC should know we are all paying for each vehicle that uses that road, but no. Nothing was done, no one was interested, the story was never told until some sensitive documents started finding me.

That really surprised me, that the presence of these payments had been known to so many in the media who have been around for a while. And it was an eye-opener, since how could that not be newsworthy? Even some junior reporters were surprised at all of it. My first personal experience with how it all works, and perhaps theirs too.

It’s true that losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding the truth sometimes, but my illusion that the press should be free from any obligation other than the public’s right to know, is one I wish was still unbroken.

I’ll leave you now with an excerpt from that previous post examining media bias, because there is no other way to end this but with a reminder of a code of ethics every newsroom should have on their wall – in my opinion – and one every news director or editor should paste on the screen of every reporters computer:

“It is important to note that the Society of Professional Journalists have posted on their site, a code of ethics.  Among these voluntary guidelines, are sections devoted to  acting independently, and being accountable :

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:

— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
— Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
— Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

Clearly, one has to wonder what new journalism graduates must feel like when they enter todays newsrooms. After all, you spend 4 years being taught ethics, morality, and the importance of unbiased reporting, find yourself  full of youthful righteousness  ready to show the truth…. and  then step on the newsroom floor only to find the news you are assigned to report is very different from the news you should be reporting. That you can’t piss off the advertisers. That there isn’t enough of a budget to do a diner review, let along an in-depth investigative piece on the real story of non-profit billing practices. That bad government news stories are run on Fridays and good news ones they want to pump are run on Mondays, and that all those  other clever young journalism graduates  of past are now nothing more than flunkies paid to shill for the “bad guys”.

How disappointing the reality of some modern news organizations values can be, how tragic the consequences are. Citizens are now often faced with having to decide for themselves what is truth or spin, what is real or altered, what is contrived or motivated by hidden factors they have made public.

Sadly, it would appear the famous words of George Orwell are still as relevent as they were when first spoken:

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

33 thoughts on “” Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding the truth” ~ Karl Ludwig Borne

  1. cherylb

    And that culture, in a nutshell, is why social media has taken off and is so important to so many people. And that importance grows everyday, as more and more people, who don’t want to be “told” what the news is, look for ways to find out what is really going on out there. That is one of the reasons that we succeeded with the HST petition. People didn’t pay any attention to the “club” telling us it would fail. The MSM media can whine and cry and complain all they want to. Until they start doing the jobs they are paid to do and stop supporting their “buddies” they will continue to be taken less and less seriously by anyone with half a brain. And, NOTE TO MSM reading this – your buddies will not be in power forever! We, the people, on the other hand, will ALWAYS be here. Consider yourselves warned….

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  2. Sweet Bea

    Thanks for pulling all these various essays and incidents into a cohesive, enlightening and powerful piece Laila.

    The lack of ethics in BC’s media today is doing considerable harm to our society.

    I don’t believe the media are behaving this way because they don’t know any better. They are behaving this way because they can. As long as the public remains docile and quiet, they will continue to lap up the gravy train.

    The media play a special role in the checks and balances of power in our society, and as such they have a responsibility to society, not just to their bottom line, personal or corporate. And, if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities, eventually there will be consequences.

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  3. Excellent post Laila.

    And I fully understand your disillusionment given the fact that you, yourself, have done lots of excellent top-drawer investigative digging and reportage.

    However, as solace, this might be a good time for you to recall the immortal words of….

    Groucho.

    .

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  4. newshound

    Take heart, lass, you have three qualities and instincts that the vast majority of reporters these days don’t have, that will get you places.

    An uncanny ability to smell shit when it stinks, the knowledge to know where to find the shit that someone already buried,and the balls to follow that lead even when the pressures on. Back when I was working the newsroom right about when Noah sailed his Ark,you and others like yourself were how everyone strived to be,

    Those days are long gone,with some notable exceptions in the local scene. No budget now for anything indepth, lots of filler and no drive to find news, just read it off the wire and re-write a press release now and then.

    We cannot make good news out of bad practice, Ed Murrow said. He also said To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.

    Bingo. Don’t let it get you down Laila. Stand proud with the other bloggers in the good fight. It’s the future I see before I’m gone to dust.

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  5. Julie

    What the media comes down to, is how much they are willing to sell their souls for. They willingly support the BC Liberals, the most corrupt government in Canadian history. Their souls aren’t worth a hell of a lot, are they? To spread the BC Liberals lies, is the sum of their integrity. They have nothing worth while to offer. Except their disgrace to their professions, for all of us to, hear, see and read. The peoples offer back to the media, is a deep contempt.

    These days, I rely on the bloggers, to learn the truth. All of you deserve medals. You have no idea, how many times someone like me, would be blindsided by the BC Liberals lies and scams.

    A very good article, as usual Laila.

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  6. Jerret

    Timely and eloquent piece, thank you Laila. I had not read Kai Nagatas essay,and I felt like jumping up from my desk when it was done. I am glad that you see the good people in the field are beholden to lifes needs and paycheques,but it is hard to accept and swallow.

    Gary it is no secret that Tsakumis has said he loves Watts as the top choice for next liberal leader. Doesn’t work to have all this coming out,no matter the circumstances,and Laila has raised some valid questions about the inconsistencies.Pretty sure the Libbies would rather have this all go away quietly too, to have any chance of saving their party.

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  7. Gary

    I agree with what you say about Watts. I can’t see her as leader of a winning Liberal Party though. With what Laila has been saying, I see her as no different than what we have right now and I believe that shortly there will be no Liberal Party for her to lead.

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  8. Good integration of the facts, Laila. Much appreciated by those who see media as an essential part of a responsible democracy.

    Your posting reminded me very quickly of at least two events which ought to have been published as news items in Big Media, but weren’t touched.

    One was the Break & Enter (and trashing) of Bill Tieleman’s office, with the obvious clue left: that it had something to do with the BC Rail affair. Nothing was published about that.

    Another was the trial, verdict, and sentencing of Jasmohan Singh Bains who happened to be the person police were tracking when they raided the BC Legislature. Nothing published about that, either.

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  9. Sweet Bea

    Laila, Alex Tsakumis responded with an olive branch and very nice compliments about you, and I’m very glad he did. He may disagree with your take on many issues but he surely was out of line in how he slammed you.But to be so partisan, it just hurts his credibility. Also, someone chastized him for name-calling, and I agree, for the same reason, hurts his credibility, and he’s got so much going for him otherwise.

    “But Yuile is a different story: Truth be told she’s an excellent investigative journalist and great person. But she gets brutally sidetracked by an absurd penchant for conspiracy theories.

    Don’t sweat a thing my dear, you’re doing a tremendous job. We the citizens of BC owe you a huge thanks.

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  10. Julie

    I see so many bad things done to this country, This is no longer the Canada, the country that was loved by the world. I am in touch with the second generation of, a family in Holland. One of my brothers was in the liberation of Holland during WW11. They are one of the family’s, my brother had met. They still want to stay in touch with us. Our young Canadian boys, were absolutely worshiped by the Dutch people. We are no longer that Canada. Europe is being deceived and have been given false statements by Canada, regarding the dirty oil tar sands. There is a lot of info surfacing, about that too. To me, this is a terrible. Harper has disgraced Canadians, far too many times. Even a newspaper in Australia, had an article of how democracy in Canada has been eroded. We are just another corrupt, disgraceful country.

    The rot in BC really sunk in, when Campbell got into office. He thought nothing of lying to the BC people, to be re-elected for two different elections. Campbell thieved and sold our BCR (his first election lie) and our rivers. The eco damage to those rivers is sickening. The HST was a scam by Campbell, Hansen and Harper, to thieve from the BC citizens, to give to big business. They forced the HST on us. Our wild salmon are being killed off, by dirty, diseased fish farms, another government deal. Just too many bad things to mention all of them.

    Politicians are no longer, what is good for the people, the country and the provinces. It’s all about greed, theft, corruption and destruction of a nation, for their own selfish reasons. Harper is far too focused on being an energy giant, and, is frantic for all that power and glory. His wars are very important, his build up of his war machine, is a priority. His prisons, and pushing the dirtiest energy in the world, onto other country’s. He is shoving, health care onto the provinces. He is shoving our meat inspection, onto the provinces. He is giving no governing to this country what-so-ever. All he offers is his disdain. He is only focused on his own grandiose plans. And, to hell with the people.

    But, politicians had better beware. When people lose everything, and have nothing left to lose. They lose it.

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    1. Laila

      Great comments, everyone. I took the day to enjoy the sun and my backyard with the kids and will do the same today- it feels like fall at night and in the morning, must make use of this weather while we can!! Considering the store are selling fall clothing already…. eek!

      Starting from oldest to newest in reply here,

      Cheryl, great comment, really point on!

      Gary, seems another commenter addressed this for you further down. I concur.

      Sweet Bea, thank you for understanding. There seems to be a common thread in many conversation and comment threads pertaining to an unwelcome shift in the media and how people respond to that. I know in my experience- and I am sure this happens with other writers as well – people give me feedback on the street, at events and are so shocked at what they have been missing after discovering the blogosphere. They find one of us, and our blogroll and the commenters help them find others and an entirely new world opens up.

      RossK- thank you for this. And I agree, I don’t want to be a member of that club either.

      Wow Newshound, I am honoured to have you comment and that you think so- I’m taking these words and holding them close to my heart. Thank you. If I can do a fraction of what you have, I will be a happy woman.

      Julie, it is for people like you we all do this. Plus we all really just like to write and dig and dissect… Thank you for the kind words.

      Jerret, always nice to see a new face here, and thank you. As I said to Gary above in response to his question, I concur with your view on this. Completely.

      Gary, I don’t think anyone enters politics with the vision of how the might end up. There have been so many decisions and controversies in Surrey City Hall that have been for a large part, glazed over or ignored by the press. Local builders refer to her as a developers dream, no secret to anyone in town.

      BC Mary, you are bang on. Which is part of what Ian refers to I think with those half hidden, totally hidden stories. How many more are out there?

      Jim, I’ll see what I can find, sounds promising!

      Sweet Bea, there is no conspiracy theory and long time readers of this blog know that – Conspiracy no, pressing questions, yes.

      CBC Julie, bang on. When people lose everything, they do lose it. Seeing evidence of this all over the world right now I think.

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  11. Sweet Bea

    Hi Laila, I think you may have misread my comment slightly. It wasn’t me who accused you of advancing conspiracy theories, that was the quote from Alex Tsakumis that I reproduced here, so that your readers could see what my comments were referring to. I probably should have put it in italics or indented it, but I’m not familiar with how to do that.

    No biggie.

    I wish Alex T. wouldn’t go off the deep end so quickly on every little thing he doesn’t like. It’s very off-putting. He should reserve his outrage for truly outrageous things, of which there are many in this province.

    Nice to hear that you made a day in the sun with your kids a priority. Wise woman.

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  12. Gloria

    Me too Grant D.

    Campbell thieved our rivers, our hydro is going up by half. Another increase of the carbon tax July 1st. The BC Liberals, still want to force the HST on people, who just can’t afford it. The girl next door, is a single mom. She is already fretting about her children’s school supplies, the kids are growing out of their clothes. The thrift shops are empty these days. So are the food bank shelves. She works two part time minimum wage jobs. She is scared to death, by this coming winter. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, about the hydro increases. There are seniors, who will end up on the street. The only way they can cut back, is on food and utilities. Most of the apartments have electric heat. They won’t be able to pay the high increase. The HST has really hurt a lot of BC people. Even Christy’s “family’s first”, are not going to make it. In the north, utilities are extremely high. Heat can run $600.00 per month. With the hydro going so high, Christy’s family’s will end up in shelters, or on the street. There is price gouging of food costs, gasoline. The HST has really driven up the cost of living. There are more mill lay offs coming. There are no jobs to be had. I don’t know what the mill family’s will do?

    But as usual with the BC Liberals, their greed comes first. The citizens in the north, are not even on the BC Liberals “radar”. We don’t get low cost housing projects up here. People pay high rent, for a drafty shack.

    What is worse, Campbell did this to the people for his own gain. He purposely did, every mean vindictive evil in the book, to the BC people, and nothing has changed

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  13. North Van's Grumps

    Who can forget this line from the Globe and Mail, reporting on Gordon Campbell’s non-sale of BC Rail to CN Rail……..Media strategies that call for reporters to be “hand picked” for inside scoops and the presentation of groomed “supporters” to validate the government’s message.M/i>
    I wonder who those hand picked reporters were?

    All we have to do, I suppose, is to look for the scoops and list the names of the intrepid reporters onto the internet, much like what has happened to the Stanley Cup Rioters.

    Source of Quote: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/campbell-haunted-by-bc-rail-deal/article975886/page2/

    Campbell haunted by BC Rail deal
    MARK HUME
    VANCOUVER— Globe and Mail Update
    Published Saturday, Mar. 07, 2009 9:56AM EST
    Last updated Friday, Apr. 10, 2009 12:51AM EDT

    Like

  14. Lynn

    And just who voted for the Liberals?
    Not I.
    And just who decided not to vote at all thus ensuring more votes for the Liberals?
    Again, not I.
    Maybe, just maybe, all these sell offs and all the price hikes will finally move people’s attention from the reality whore shows on TV and put down the gossip rags and get motivated to yell and scream loud enough and take back our Cities, our Province, our Country.

    Like

  15. James B

    Great job,Laila! You have very high-quality readers out there. The damage that has been done by the Campbell era needs to be reversed,or it will keep eating away at many levels and affect many good people and the beautiful province that is being used for profit by those set up by people in power. Think of how many lives have been changed and altered just to rise up to the injustices that go un-noticed and un-punished. Look at what a bought and paid for media can do for a party in power. It is a MUST, if those in power seek to rewrite laws to benefit the few at the cost of the many. This reckless use of power is nearly at an end, and just what kind of media and leaders waits for the people, is really up to the people….but we have to WORK and THINK together.

    Like

    1. Laila

      Sorry fellows, I missed these comments earlier! I do agree, and they would too, that I have some exceptional readers. James, your comment speaks to a growing sentiment in BC, and I think the time is arriving soon when we see action. What alarms me is the same kind of media bias towards a party or person, for that matter, can greatly colour public opinion far from the truth. It is a reckless use of power to do so.

      Art, thank you for the kind words and yes, I think writing is a work in progress where there is room for improvement and expansion as one learns and grows as a person.

      Rafe on the radio, now that would be something I would tune into.

      Lynn, its all the others that voted that are the issue..loll. lets hope they start following the mantra, fool me once , shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!!

      NVG, ” ……..Media strategies that call for reporters to be “hand picked” for inside scoops and the presentation of groomed “supporters” to validate the government’s message”

      Hmm, is that why certain reporters are always reporting on certain people? Or is there an assigned beat with a name on it? Imagine that, reporters handpicker for inside scoops, written just the way the government wanted them… no, no conspiracy there…lol..

      Now, the question is, how many other communications department use that tactic? And why was The Surrey Now the only local paper, well the only paper, to run the story on the lawsuit… again.. with information the city staff have confirmed in an FOI request is not accurate???

      Like

  16. Art

    I’ve enjoyed your site since 2007,have also enjoyed seeing your writing evolve, mature and become more focused.Always thought NW should have given you a night spot to break your teeth and develop your talent before shifting you to daytime slot.Question is how much of what you write here would they let you talk about? Heh.

    I can recall the days of Rafe coming over the air loud and clear, course they had to shut him up and anyone else who had a real brain.McComb is good work, too many adverts. Good is a schill,nothing but the company line there.This news about Smart and Scott is an embaressment.

    Like

  17. About those “hand-picked” news reporters … the most un-funny joke is the protocol at BC Supreme Court where only … [ahem, cough …] ACCREDITED JOURNALISTS were allowed certain access privileges.

    And guess who does the deciding? Not the BC Supreme Court. No, “Accredited Journalist” decisions in the BC Rail trial were left to the guys from Big Media. It was they who decided that Dr Robin Mathews couldn’t be allowed to use a tape recorder (as they did) in the courtroom for accuracy. Why? because he wasn’t being paid to do so and that, in their view, made him ineligible.

    It blew me away that no effort was made by BCSC itself to correct that decision. And Robin, with a long and proud history of scholarship, refused to push the matter any farther.

    It grieves me to say this … yet, isn’t it obvious that the media must be cleaned up too? The BC Rail tragedy couldn’t have happened if journalists had been doing their job and bringing the issue into the public domain. The Rupert Murdoch (News of the World) story is unfolding right before our eyes, explaining how media can become corrupted and go on to corrupt … [Sorry, didn’t mean to get started … ]

    The thing is, Laila, you are a precious part of good media. Vitally important. Much appreciated.

    Like

    1. Laila

      Do not apologise for getting started Mary- it certainly does play into what happened with BC rail, and how the issue continually gets swept under the rug by everyone. Nowhere is there a more complete reference of everything BC Rail sale related than on your site and we know that it was and continues to be a vital resource for both reporters, researchers and lawyers.

      The Murdoch story is one yet to be completed and a dire warning to all- media and public. Of course reporters have their sources, of course all writers and journalists get tips and information, however when police are paid off, when poiticians and aides and employees are all colluding to get or make news through illegal methods, thats another thing altogether. And Mary, thank you for your kind words -apply them to yourself as well !

      Like

  18. a big fan

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think your website needs far more consideration across this province and am sending your link to everyone I know. Thank you for doing what you do.

    Like

  19. Pingback: Fair Comment/fair use no defence with The Province when it comes to Enbridge. | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

  20. As was pointed out to me by a very “in the know” person, about a certain bloggers “statements” (not factual news) are something to be highly suspect, and definitely worth researching oneself as you may find his story to be something completely different than the facts.

    A big thank you to that very thoughtful, and well-informed blogger, for the real deal on the scoop regarding you know who. ( edited -LY we don’t use that name here)

    Like

  21. You can add another journalist to your list, the Late Hubert Beyer: “When the press fails to keep its distance from politicians” Victoria Report

    VICTORIA – Hardly a week goes by without some social gathering between politicians and reporters covering provincial affairs at the Legislative Buildings in Victoria, a development that should be of some concern to the public.
    snip
    I wasn’t at the dinner (1987), hosted by Lieutenant-Governor Stephen Rogers for members of the press gallery, but I was told that government house leader Bruce Strachan referred to press gallery members as servants of the legislature. I’ve got news for you, Bruce. I’m nobody’s servant. Not yours and not the legislature’s.

    Hubert Beyer Bio: http://www.hubertbeyer.com/

    Like

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