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MDUSD superintendent responds to questions about false and misleading bond resolution

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, June 8th, 2012 at 6:18 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

I sent the following e-mail to Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence on Wednesday, asking him to explain misleading statements in the bond resolution approved by the board in a 4-1 on vote April 23rd (Hansen against).

I received his response this afternoon, which I am posting below my original e-mail. After reading his response, which did not include the bond documents I requested, I sent a follow-up e-mail, which I have posted after his response.


“Subject: April 23 Bond Resolution

Dear Steven,

I have some questions about the April 23rd bond resolution, which was changed after the board saw it, then submitted to the County Board of Supervisors on May 8:

According to the minutes, the board authorized you to make the following changes to the original resolution (which has been removed from the district’s online agenda):

“Eberhart moved, Mayo seconded and the Board voted 4-1-0 (Hansen – no) to approve 16.5 to modify the resolution so the changes reflect the will of the Board around option 3 and real property/land acquisition.”

Although the resolution was changed to reflect the will of the board regarding Current Interest Bonds, I do not see any language added to reflect the will of the board regarding real property/land acquisition.

However, I see that an entire new section was added (13), indemnifying the county. As you know, the board never authorized or discussed that addition.

I also noticed that both versions of the resolution include the same false information, which was not changed. Both resolutions specifically state that both the Preliminary Official Statement and the Purchase Agreement were “presented to this meeting of the District Board.” Further, both resolutions state: “The foregoing recitals are true and correct.”

Yet, those two documents were not presented to the board.

After the board meeting, the resolution was changed and the original resolution was removed from the district’s website and replaced with the new resolution, which was never presented to the board. That revised resolution (signed by you) was submitted to the County Board of Supervisors on May 8, as backup for the Supervisors’ resolution authorizing the sale of the bonds:

Based on all of this, I am requesting that you provide me with copies of the Preliminary Official Statement and Purchase Agreement, which the board reportedly approved.

Section 3 states that the Purchase Agreement is “on file with the District Board and is hereby approved….” Section 4 states: “The District Board hereby approves the form of Preliminary Official Statement relating to the Bonds on file with the Clerk of the District Board…”

I also have the following questions:

1. Why did you not present the Preliminary Official Statement and Purchase Agreement to the board at the April 23 meeting, as stated in the resolution?

2. Why did you sign the resolution, including the statement, “The foregoing is true and correct,” when it wasn’t true and correct?

3. Why was Section 13 added, indemnifying the county?

4. Who requested the indemnification clause?

5. Who authorized the indemnification clause?

6. Why is there no restriction on the acquisition of property or land in the revised resolution, even though the board directed you to add language reflecting “the will of the board” regarding that?”



The District’s bond program includes a team of legal and financial professionals who advise us as to the legal, financial and other requirements in authorizing and issuing our bonds. The District makes every effort possible to meet those requirements. The following responses are provided to your questions of June 5th:

1. On April 23, 2012, the Board of Education (the “Board”) of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (the “District”) considered a resolution requesting the issuance by the County of Contra Costa of certain general obligation bonds (the “Bonds”) of the District (the “Resolution”). Prior to the April 23, 2012 meeting, the Board was provided with the Resolution for review in preparation for that meeting. In addition, as stated in the Resolution, the Board, through its Clerk, was provided with certain supporting documentation, including a preliminary official statement and a Bond Purchase Agreement. The supporting documentation was not presented at the meeting because it had already been provided prior to the meeting thus allowing for review prior to action being taken.

2. The recitals in the Resolution are true and correct. I signed the Resolution with that understanding and belief.

3. Section 13 of the Resolution was added after a request was received by Bond Counsel to include such language. The County of Contra Costa requires the language in Section 13 of the Resolution for all bond issuances for which the County issues on behalf of a school district.

4. The County of Contra Costa through the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office requested the indemnification clause in Section 13.

5. The indemnification clause in Section 13 was authorized by General Counsel to the District after discussion with Bond Counsel. The addition was made prior to the April 23 meeting. The revised resolution was provided to the Board for review prior to the April 23 meeting.

6. The Board authorization prohibited the expenditure of bond proceeds for the acquisition of new school sites but rather provided that bond proceeds were to be used to improve existing school sites. The authorization granted with respect to the issuance of the Bonds is accurately memorialized in full in the Resolution and the minutes of the April 23, 2012 meeting.”



Thank you for these responses. I am again requesting that you provide me with the preliminary official statement and bond purchase agreement that were provided to the board for review. As you know, since they were distributed to the board, they should be public record, available for immediate review by anyone who asks for them.

Also, I am requesting a copy of the revised resolution, which you said was provided to the board prior to the April 23 meeting.

I also have the following follow-up questions:

1. Why did you not make the bond documents available to the public as part of the agenda docket?

2. Since you didn’t present the bond documents during the meeting, why didn’t you change the language in the recitals to reflect the fact that they were distributed to the board prior to the meeting?

3. The language in Section 2 of the resolution states that proceeds are to be “used for the acquisition and improvement of certain real property.” How does this prohibit the acquisition of new school sites?

4. Why did you not announce to the board and the public that the resolution had been revised prior to the meeting?

5. Why are the first two versions of the resolution no longer available for public review on the district’s agenda?”

Lawrence appears to be arguing that the resolution’s statements that the bond documents were “presented to this meeting” really meant: were provided secretly to the board without public disclosure. Based on his belief that these two are interchangeable, he is asserting that the recitals were “true and correct.”

He also appears to believe that it is not necessary to announce to the public that a resolution has been revised after it was published with the agenda, or to make the bond documents being approved at the meeting available for public review before they are approved.

Are you satisfied with Lawrence’s responses?


When I spoke to Superintendent Steven Lawrence on Monday regarding the bond resolution and supporting documents, he said the district was following the same procedures it had in the past and he wondered why there were so many questions this time around.

In response, I sent the email posted below. I am also posting his response, along with my follow-up questions:

“Tuesday, June 19, 2012 12:32 PM

“Steven, In response to your assertion last night that you did everything the same this year as you did in the past regarding bond sales, please refer to this agenda docket item from Aug. 10, 2010:

As you can see, the 2010 resolution was substantially different and did not include the ‘whereas’ clauses I questioned in the April 23, 2012 resolution. The 2010 resolution also did not include the statement: ‘The foregoing recitals are true and correct.’ But, it DID include forms of the purchase agreement and preliminary official statement as attachments.

I continue to question why you failed to present the bond preliminary official statement and purchase agreements to the public in April, yet claimed in the resolution that they were presented. Also, when Alicia Minyen asked to see them, you did not tell her that they were available for inspection upon request. Your rationale that they were “made available” to the board does not change the fact that they were not, in fact, ‘presented’ as you attested in the resolution. Also, you did not make a public statement that they were ‘available’ to the board upon request.

Do you believe your failure to publicly present the preliminary official statement and bond purchase agreement, as stated in the resolution, violated the Brown Act?”

“Wed 6/20/2012 6:10 PM


Please find the following response to questions that you have raised regarding the Resolution authorizing the bond sale and specifically the Bond Purchase Agreement (‘BPA’) at the April 23rd Board meeting. Also, per your request I asked Loreen to send you both the Draft BPA and Final BPA.

The Resolution that was adopted is different from earlier resolutions adopted by the Board. The most obvious difference is that earlier resolutions provided for the issuance of bonds under the Government Code while this latest resolution provided for the issuance of bonds under the Education Code. Thus, there will be a number of different provisions due to the different code. That is to be expected. There are also similarities. Both forms of resolution approve both a Preliminary Official Statement (“POS”) and a BPA and provide direction to staff to complete those documents.

The Resolution does not claim that the POS and the BPA were presented to the public. The Resolution states that forms of those documents were presented to the meeting of the Board and further states that they were held on file with the Clerk of the Board. That language was intended to mean that the documents were provided to the Board for consideration at the meeting and available for review if needed.

Our financial advisor Jon Isom personally hand delivered the BPA to Loreen with Lori Amenta’s assistance at the start of the Board meeting on the 23rd. This explains why Loreen didn’t have an electronic copy to share with you. In fact, he sent an email to Deborah Cooksey (referenced below at 7:31 pm on April 23rd) from his iPhone with the BPA attached to be printed and available at the meeting. I have since confirmed with Loreen that she does have the original hard copy from that meeting.

‘From: Jon Isom []
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 7:31 PM
To: Jon Isom;
Subject: Fwd: Mt. Diablo BPA

Sent from my iPhone’

I hope this background helps to clarify the questions surrounding the resolution, what it does and doesn’t do, and the source of the BPA.


Steven Lawrence”

(Note: Isom’s email appeared in the body of Lawrence’s email exactly as shown above, without the attachment mentioned.)

“Wed 6/20/2012 6:27 PM

Steven, Thanks for this explanation. I have received the first version from Loreen and she said she’ll send the final one soon.

Regarding the email from Jon Isom: I don’t see the attachment you referenced.

Regarding the language in the resolution, I am still unclear about whether the documents were actually distributed to board members. Did board members receive the preliminary official statement and bond purchase agreement at that meeting? Or, by “provided to the board,” do you actually mean that you had them and they were available for review, but not distributed to trustees? If this is the case, why was there no public announcement about this? Also, why did you not provide them to Alicia Minyen for review, when she specifically asked to see them? Also, why didn’t Deb forward the electronic version to Loreen?

Theresa Harrington”

Are you satisfied with Lawrence’s latest responses?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

135 Responses to “MDUSD superintendent responds to questions about false and misleading bond resolution”

  1. Seriously... Says:

    I’ve read the Brown Act and it does not address leaks from Closed session as being Brown Act violations. Further, Lawrence’s job search efforts should not have been considered in his evaluation…and therefore I do not believe a job search is closed session material. However, this all might explain Whitmarsh’s reason to recommend an extension of his contract. Dr. J., I bet Hansen was the first and only board member contacted. However, now that the DA knows of Minyen’s complaint he will be sure to contact the other Board members.

  2. Jack Weir Says:

    Theresa, thank you for a fine piece of investigative reporting, and for continuing to focus a bright light on the ongoing violations of law and disregard for public access displayed by district staff and some board members.
    Of course Lawrence’s answer is unsatisfactory – it’s non-responsive to your questions, and is bureaucratic blather. His referall to the district’s reliance on “bond counsel” for legal advice is entirely disingenuous. Bond counsel’s primary fiduciary responsbility is to bond investors, not to taxpayers.
    Good luck getting your hands on the records you requested. The public, and even members of the citizen bond oversight committee have been repeatedly stone-walled by the district to prevent disclosure of incriminating documents.
    The superintendent and the district counsel should be fired for their actions, and members of the board, except for Trustee Hansen, should be removed from their positions by voters.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Somewhat ironically, Trustee Linda Mayo voted against raising the tax rate at the April 23rd meeting. But then, she voted in favor of the bond resolution, saying she wanted to go along with the will of the board. Some members of the public have told me they were surprised by her apparent willingness to reverse her opposition to the tax increase so quickly. A vote against the bond resolution would have shown stronger opposition to the tax increase, some people have said.

    Mayo also made a motion not to include General Counsel Greg Rolen’s contract among those being extended at the April 23 meeting. This motion was seconded by Hansen, but died in a 2-3 vote. So, she appears to be somewhat conflicted about following his recommendations, but she did not state why she made the motion.

    Seriously, yes, the DA said the inquiry was related a a Brown Act violation related to possible disclosure of information discussed in closed session. As I keep saying, I hope to do a blog post soon laying it all out, as I understand it.

  4. g Says:

    Seriously; Yes the DA knows about Alicia Minyen’s complaint. He made sure it got buried in a deep stack of papers on “someone else’s” desk where it will most likely die of suffocation.

    Peterson and good buddy Eberhart have a lot of quid pro quo running through their veins, and sunshine might cause a clot.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Any bets if DA Mark Peterson will respond to Theresa’s inquiry today ? And bets if Steven Lawrence will respond to Theresa’s further inquiry today ?

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Based on comments on this blog, I now have more follow-up inquiries regarding whether Lawrence actually distributed the bond documents to trustees and why the district is continuing its practice of paying cost of issuance with the bond premium, which Minyen and the Measure C auditor questioned the first time around. At that time, the bond counsel said she didn’t understand the attorney general’s Poway letter. “No one knows what it means,” she told the BOC. She also said everyone else was doing it and she seemed to believe there was no law against it.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Wait until Romney appoints a principled U.S. Attorney who might be willing to start a federal corruption probe. Don’t forget the federal Capital Corruption probe in Sacramento in the early 90’s that led to several convictions.

  8. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    It is imperative that DA Peterson investigate the MDUSD board. If he only interrogates Hansen then we know he is part of the cabal that is running the MDUSD into the ground.

    I suspect The Gary is the head of this organization.

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s my understanding that the DA’s office intends to interview all MDUSD board members regarding the Brown Act inquiry mentioned by Hansen.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    The plot thickens. Read Item 4.1 of the October 18, 2008 Board Meeting.

  11. g Says:

    Theresa @ 56; We really need to see the “negotiated sale” Purchase Agreement. The terms in the Resolution of .75% tells me we are looking at a cost to the taxpayers of well over $1.2million before we ever see a penny of money for the schools.

    Whether that is in addition to the “Premium” being used to pay for issuance, or if it is inclusive, it is a whole lot of money for people who don’t give a hoot about the schools.

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I have requested the purchase agreement and haven’t yet gotten a response from Lawrence. I will also ask board members if they received it for review, which Lawrence appeared to imply in his response. If so, they should be willing to provide it directly to the public, if their clerk refuses to do so.

    Dr. J: Thanks for the minutes. As Sue Berg recalled, Eberhart and Strange (who is an attorney) insisted that backup documentation should be presented to the public at the board meeting in order to avoid a Brown Act violation. Rolen and interim superintendent Dick Nicoll, on the other hand, said it would not be a Brown Act violation, since the documents had been publicly presented at a previous meeting.

    In the April 23 instance, however, the bond documents were NEVER publicly presented and still have not been presented by the district. Perhaps Eberhart’s understanding of the Brown Act has changed since he became part of the board majority and since Rolen and the superintendent now support his arguments.

    I have found my previous story about the October 2008 meeting, in which Eberhart and Strange accused the rest of the board of violating the Brown Act. I will post it separately.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    In the words of Ron Popeil, “And there’s more !” The Board on a Motion by Gary Eberhart voted in closed session 3-2 and directed the Supt to post the Agendas for the Parent Advisory Council in accordance with the Brown Act. This directive to the Supt has never been revoked by official action. Yet, Lawrence continues to violate the Board directive to post the Agenda’s 72 hours in advance of the PAC, both on the website and at the District offices, as required by the Brown Act.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    Another diamond in the minutes ! Gary and Paul approved the minutes as accurate so they can’t deny the accuracy of their own statements ! On March 11, 2008, Eberhart said: “Eberhart, voicing the same concern as Strange did under Board Reports/Issues of Concern, objected to being told that some financial information Board members are receiving is confidential. He quoted from the Brown Act on the need for Board deliberations to be held in public. In regard to budget reductions, Strange reiterated his comments that Mt. Diablo USD receives the lowest state revenue per student than other districts in the county and that the only way to change that is by generating more revenue through a parcel tax. He echoed Eberhart’s concerns about the Brown Act. ”

  15. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Oh my! What a tangled web they have woven.

    Does anyone know if the DA regularly “follows-up” on anon blog posts or if he was directed to “follow-up” on one by a certain someone?

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t believe the DA regularly follows up on anonymous blog posts. It appears that someone brought it to the DA’s attention and may have requested an inquiry.

    Here is the link to my 2008 story about Eberhart’s insistence that it would be a violation of the Brown Act not to present backup documents to the public before a vote:

  17. Fly on the Wall Says:

    Theresa, no, the MDHS principal did not put her promises in writing. Staff were naive to believe in the good faith of a principal. Now the IHTA will not have a new kitchen.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FOTW: The IHTA will not have a new kitchen? But, I heard it was going full steam ahead (with Prop. 55 funding). What happened?

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As an aside, the Emeryville teachers’ union has voted No Confidence in their superintendent based low morale, teachers feeling unwanted, devalued and disrespected:

  20. vindex Says:

    Again, based on how we’ve seen this district work, everything is cleared by General Counsel Rolen. Is he being investigated for this as well? Is he being investigated for the Bond issue?

  21. Fly on the Wall Says:

    68. From the MDHS principal “The IHTA kitchen is not being funded through Measure C and is no longer on the priorities list.”

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FOTW: But wasn’t the site council supposed to develop that list? Did they agree to take it off?

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Bay Area News Group 2011 Public Employee Salary Database is now online:

  24. Wait a Minute Says:


    For the life of me I can’t understand why MDEA and the classified unions does not also conduct a Vote of No Confidence in Stevie Lawrence and company.

    The district is really owned by the citizens but the organized employees need to stand up against the corruption and incompetence at the top that threatens not just the reputation of the district but ultimately its financial longevity.

  25. Doctor J Says:

    Why does the database show Pete Pedersen making over $12,000 MORE than his “not to exceed” annual salary ?

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to the database, Pedersen earned $76,626 in “other income” plus $2,222 in “misc,” for a total of $78,848.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    @WAM, J. Edgar Hoover said it best: Knowledge is power. MDEA has power with it unspoken knowledge and plays on Lawrence’s weak spots. Not only did MDEA get the 3% bonus [as well did Lawrence & certificated staff]but they also slam dunked SASS who had all Principals planning for an entire day of “Professional Development” on Friday, and instead the Principals get one hour and then the rest of the “day” is left to the discretion of teachers.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    @#76 “Not to exceed $64,368” and Pete gets: “$76,626 in “other income” plus $2,222 in “misc,” for a total of $78,848”. A secret bonus ? Perhaps its time to look at his timesheets and expenses.

  29. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Of course Petey is lining his pockets, why do you think he is so willing to be one of the henchmen of the machine.

  30. Just curious Says:

    Dr J. The rest of the day on Friday will be spent doing all of the room cleaning and paperwork teachers are unable to do while they have a classroom full of students.

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When I saw Superintendent Steven Lawrence last night, I again asked him for the Bond Purchase Agreement, which he still has not sent me. He said he would speak to his secretary about it today. She told me she doesn’t have it.

    I also asked Lawrence if the bond documents were actually distributed to the board. He said they were “made available” to trustees and they knew they could ask to see them if they wanted to. But, he didn’t say whether any of them actually requested or saw the documents.

    Lawrence also said the district is using the same team of legal advisers this time and is doing everything the same way it did last time, so he didn’t understand why there were questions about it now. However, Alicia Minyen has said the district is not doing everything the same this time.

    The bond counsel opinion states that Matt Juhl-Darlington and Associates “examined” documents including the bond resolution.

    “We have not undertaken to verify independently, and have assumed, the accuracy of the factual matters represented, warranted or certified in the documents….” it states. This appears to imply that Juhl-Darlington assumed the bond documents were “presented to this meeting” as stated in the resolution and that the “foregoing recitals” were in fact “true and correct,” as attested to by Lawrence.

  32. g Says:

    Just because they have made a habit of attaching “blank” Purchase Agreements does not make it right, and does not make it OK to just continue poor policy!

    We care. We are watching. This particular sale was (supposedly) carried out as a Citizens’ special request. There are huge TAX implications.

    There are rules to follow, no matter how much Lawrence wants to pretend he just doesn’t “understand”.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Minyen pointed out to the DA in her Brown Act complaint addendum that the district’s 2010 was very different from the 2012 resolution:
    It also included the official preliminary statement and bond purchase agreement as attachments.
    It did not falsely claim that they were “presented to this meeting” or falsely claim that such “foregoing recitals are true and correct.”

  34. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#81 How dishonest and misleading could it get based on this statement: “I also asked Lawrence if the bond documents were actually distributed to the board. He said they were “made available” to trustees and they knew they could ask to see them if they wanted to. But, he didn’t say whether any of them actually requested or saw the documents.” The conflict between the bond statements and Lawrence’s version are irreconcilable.

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you mean the bond resolution (which states that the documents were “presented” to the meeting)?

  36. Anon Says:

    Someone needs to go to jail for this, most likely Lawrence and maybe Eberhart.

    Sadly, the DA appears to be complicit, and maybe even goes as far as trying to be one of the strongmen for attempting to intimidate Hansen.

  37. g Says:

    “made available” is absolutely not the same as “presented”. Not even close!

    I’m sure they would know that the only board member that might have had sense enough to even care to see the documents would be Hansen–a point made clear by the board’s vote!

    What was she supposed to do–‘make an appointment’ with Lawrence to see them and then take a stand between Rolen and Lawrence as they stood over her shoulder while she read them?

  38. g Says:

    It’s clear that when Lawrence stated that the documents were presented “through the clerk” he DID mean that HE saw them, and chose not to present them to the board before the vote!

    So now, why is he putting it off to his secretary to stall Theresa?

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen said she didn’t recall seeing the documents. In fact, she didn’t even realize the resolution had been revised.
    She said she received an email from the superintendent’s secretary about the revised resolution an hour-and-a-half before the meeting, but hadn’t had a chance to open it, due to closed session.
    She is putting forward a new agenda item for June 25 aimed at making such revisions much clearer to the board and the public.

    g: It looks like you were correct that he didn’t actually present the documents to the board. It definitely appears that Lawrence is stalling on the purchase agreement. Minyen says the bonds close tomorrow, according to the preliminary offering statement.

  40. g Says:

    So, we can all now see the version 3 of the Resolution, and the Preliminary Disclosure is on EMMA; but WHERE is the Bond Purchase Agreement posted? Anywhere?

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That is my point. The district is still withholding it from the public. I will call the DA about this today.

    I just spoke to his secretary and she said she still hadn’t had a chance to ask him about it, because he’s been in meetings. But, she said she plans to ask him about it when he gets out.

  42. Doctor J Says:

    So Theresa, do you feel Lawrence lied to you or misled you last night when he said he in essence said his secretary had the Bond Purchase Agreement and then today his secretary says she doesn’t have it ? How could he have it before, and not have it now ?

    Hansen should just start posting the documents on her webiste and let the sun shine on the TRUTH !

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Last night, he said he would talk to his secretary about what had been sent to me. He appeared to believe he had already sent the purchase agreement to me. I don’t know if he really couldn’t remember whether he had already sent it or not. But, clearly, if he had sent it, his secretary would have it.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just left a message for Peterson, who is not in his office at the moment.
    I also intend to ask him about Minyen’s third addendum, which suggested that he investigate the district’s possible misuse of public funds related to its planned use of bond premium to pay issuance costs.

  45. g Says:

    Since this was a “Negotiated” sale, who, from the District, would be allowed to sign on the bottom line? Rolen? Richards? Lawrence?

    Surely the person on the bottom line would have had sense enough to keep a copy of anything with his signature on it!

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You would assume so, especially since Lawrence has asserted that it is “on file” with him.

    Here is the Poway letter from the attorney general, which says the use of bond premium to pay issuance costs is “not authorized by law” and that the attorney general may intervene if such practices continue:

  47. g Says:

    Matt Juhl-Darlington & Associates, Chico, California, is acting as Disclosure
    Counsel for the issue.

    Perhaps a call to his office would bring some “Disclosure” for the issue!

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I also want to ask why the district is continuing to ignore the attorney general’s Poway letter.
    I have left a message for the deputy attorney general who sent it.

  49. Doctor J Says:

    @93 Theresa, another whole day and you still don’t have it ! How much more disrespectful can the man be ?

  50. Doctor J Says:

    I guess there is always the power of the free press: a front page story with how the Supt is stalling full disclosure and playing hide the ball. A time line in a little box will be really impressive to readers and perhaps to law enforcement.

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