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Batavia Town Board: Meeting agenda

By Philip Anselmo

Here are the actions on the table for the next Batavia Town Board meeting (Wednesday, May 21). Call the Town Hall at (585) 343-1729 for more information.

News roundup: A victorious week for Batavia high school sports

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Friday):

• A big hit from Joe Stachowski put the Batavia Blue Devils over Hornell last night. The high school baseball team rolled to a 7-7 record with the win. Meanwhile, the girls softball team was triumphant over Eastridge, winning 3-2 and setting their record at 7-8. Also, Blue Devils tennis took home a win over Alexander, 4-1, wrapping up their season with an 8-5 record, "one of the most succesful seasons the squad has had in years," writes reporter Brian Hillabush.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

School budget vote Tuesday

By Philip Anselmo

In anticipation of the school budget vote Tuesday, outgoing Batavia City Schools Superintendent Richard Stutzman told the Daily News:

"First and foremost is the budget and the capital project. If both are successful, they will be turned over to (Business Administrator Scott Rozanski and (Assistant Superintendent) Margaret Puzio. I hope that when people take a look at how our students are doing, that they're getting a positive rate of return on their investment."

The $39.4 million school budget means a 2 percent tax decrease, making it pretty easy to accept, according to Stutzman.

Reporter Joanne Beck breaks down some of the expenses in the budget, which will include:

  • $5,352,321 in security and technology upgrades
  • and $352,102 for a new maintenance shop.

Technology upgrades include security cameras, card access for doors in and out of the school buildings, heating and air conditioning, wireless installations and improvements to the high school auditorium sound system.

That sounds like good news and wise spending for a school district that recently received national attention for its use of technology.

We've talked a lot lately about the quality of life issues in Batavia, about cleaning up neighborhoods, keeping them safe and prizing the many gems in the community — restaurants, architecture and parks, to name a few. Education should go up on that list, too, if you ask me.

It has been some years since I got out of college, yet I consider myself a student still, learning as much as I can every day.

On that same topic, a radio program this morning on NPR discussed Israel's 60th anniversary, and in particular the many great minds that the tiny, young nation has produced, despite its social turmoil. Several people interviewed in the broadcast attributed that intellectual success to a cultural pride in education, investing it with the importance it warrants.

So, before the vote Tuesday, take a close look at your school budget, weigh the pros and cons, look at what resources are gained for what spending — do your research. Do all that. But be sure to keep in mind that even if your own children aren't in school, your neighbor's children probably are, your grandchildren may soon be, and promoting a culture of education promotes a community of learners, and you can take it from there.

Voting begins at noon and ends at 9:00pm Tuesday at Robert Morris, Jackson or Batavia Middle School, "depending on your ward and district designation." Call (585) 343-2480 for more information. Or visit the school's Web site.

News roundup: Searching for chiefs

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

• After ten interviews over the phone, four candidates for the position of city police chief will come in for personal interviews with City Manager Jason Molino, who told WBTA that he hoped to have the position filled within the next month. Meanwhile, an ad was posted this week for a new fire chief.

• "A Batavia couple has separate cells in county jail this morning," says Dan Fischer. Police say that 22-year-old Ryan Krupp took prescription drugs from his girlfriend's apartment.  She didn't like that he was arrested and got belligerent with police. Now, she's in jail, too. No mention of the charges.

Reminder for Benefit for Carl Bish

By nancy baxter

I just want to remind everyone that tomorrow (the 17th) is a big day in the Oakfield community.  Oakfield Youth Group is having a spaghetti dinner - chinese auction for 9th grader Carl Bish at the Oakfield Fire Hall.  Carl has recently been diagnosed with cancer and we are hoping to raise money to help the family with growing costs.  The event is 4:30 - 7:30 at the Oakfield Fire Hall.  Tickets are $7.00 adults, $5.00 kids 12 and under.

We have been overwhelmed by the generousity of the whole area.  We have over 125 baskets for the Chinese auction, plus numerous large items that are to be raffled off.  I hope everyone can come and see what great kids we have in our community.

If anyone has questions or needs tickets...please call 409-9527.

Thank you.

Blogger visits Batavia, raves about ribs

By Howard B. Owens

Does Alex's Place have the best ribs?

That's what blogger Josh Hatcher says:

I had the Half Rack Lunch Special - Garlic Ribs with BBQ on the side, coleslaw, fries, and a bowl of Cheesy Pepperoni Soup.

These were by far, the best ribs I've ever tasted in my life, and perhaps the best restaurant I've ever been to in my life.

The establishment looks like an old speak-easy, and it was a little darker inside than I prefer, but again, the food was ABSOLUTELY amazing, and if any of you are in the neighborhood, I highly recommend getting ya' some ribs!

Batavia has an amazing number of good restaurants. I'm on a mission to try them all.  I haven't been to Alex's yet.  I guess it needs to move up on my priority list.

Genesee Country Village: Derby horses, ladies hats and the good old farmstead life

By Philip Anselmo

In today's Daily News, correspondent Kristina Greene Gabalski previewed the summer season for Genesee Country Village & Museum. It seems they've got more than ever going on at the Mumford living history museum this summer.

This year's annual Whirl — the museum's major annual fundraiser — will have a Kentucky Derby theme. The Sport of Kings Cotillion is planned June 14 and features a mock horse auction, jockeys moving wooden hobby horses around a giant  game board, a ladies' hat contest and live and silent auctions. The event is intended to capture the excitement of a Derby Day Ball at Churchill Downs.

Funny. Ladies' hats are the first thing that come to mind when I think of the Kentucky Derby — seriously. Have you seen these hats? They're about the size of a car hood, plumed with feathers or bows or nets or flowers. In an erotic swoosh, they curl and curve and dip around the head of a dame.

They're showy, posh — in a word, magnificent. My measly, paisley, Windsor-knotted tie is no match for their pretension.

But enough of ladies' hats.

What else can we find at the Genesee Country Village & Museum this summer? Well, just this month, for example, they've got:

  • the Civil War by candlelight
  • a birthday party for a pair of oxen
  • a hike in search of bats, bugs and beavers
  • and a birding expedition.

Visit the museum's Web site for dates and times of these and other events. Or call (585) 538-6822. The museum is located at 1410 Flint Hill Rd., Mumford.

Photo of the Derby hat borrowed from Hats by Nancee. Visit the site for more such hand-crafted splendors.

At the museum: Hangman's noose

By Philip Anselmo

This morning, Pat Weissend was kind enough to show me some of what they've got over at the Holland Land Office Museum, where he serves as the director. I took a video camera and we stepped out onto the cold stone floor of the wood-walled museum addition that houses the 14-foot gibbet — a variation on the gallows. He tells me that the hangman's noose is the most popular artifact at the museum — no surprise, I guess, when you consider the morbid curiosity of children big and small.

This video will be the first in a (hopefully) long series of discovery-style episodes over at the museum, where they have thousands of other artifacts to scope and get the story on. So be sure to tune in regularly and keep an eye out for those. We'll try and get a new one up every couple weeks or so. In the meantime, and without further ado, The Batavian presents: The Hangman's Noose.

Visit the museum's Web site for more information, and to access links to Pat's podcasts on history. Or just head over to 131 W. Main St. and check out the collection.

News roundup: Dairy tourism center

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Thursday):

• Plans are in the works for a dairy tourism center in Batavia that would include a gift shop, a cafe, interactive displays and other features pertaining to the dairy industry. The center may be located near the entrance to the new ag-tech park next to the Genesee County Fairgrounds. Reporter Tom Rivers writes about "a committee" that is planning the center, but never mentions the name of the committee, whom it reports to, nor how it was created. He also lists some "organizers," but never tells us what they are organizing. How are they related to the committee?

• Horizon Wind Energy produced plans for a shrunken-down version of the Dairy Hills Wind Farm project in Perry. The project that originally called for 60 wind turbines was scaled down to "about 38" wind turbines. Reporter Matt Surtel writes that the company will work through "appropriate studies" over the next few weeks that will then be submitted to the Perry Town Board. Not sure what kind of studies, nor why they are appropriate.

• Batavia native Stacey Lynn Shepard, a staff writer for The Bakersfield Californian, was honored for her environmental reporting at the Gruner Awards Banquet in Fresno, earlier this month. Her stories about an oil refinery in Kern County, California, can be found at the newspaper's Web site. Her profile page can also be found there.

• The Bank of Castile will no longer postpone bank transactions made at its branches after a certain time. Whether you make a deposit at 9:40am or 4:15pm, your transaction will go through that day — not the "next" business day.

• In police news, a Batavia man found with nearly a pound of marijuana was charged with third-degree criminal possession of marijuana; an Avon man was charged with DWI at Ellicott Street; a Batavia man was charged with harassment and criminal mischief after a woman told police that he choked her.

• City police are investigating a hit-and-run that happened Tuesday morning at Center and Main streets. They are looking for a large white truck that backed into a green Hyundai. Call (585) 343-6350 if you have information.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

Is There a Better Way????

By Patrick D. Burk

 Was wondering what everyone thought of the current situation with big oil and gas companies.  I don't need to remind  you that the price is going up every day.  No stablization of price in sight.  I LOVE the way everyone plays politics with the issue....gas tax caps, price caps...even Chrysler is willing to pay for the difference between the price of a gallon of gas and $2.99.  That plan is flawed because it is based on a credit card offer and you bet Chrysler will make just as much off of charged interest to the consumer as they do in the discount...just another catch.  Make hay when the sun shines and doesn't shine in this case......

It seems to me that the really simple way to deal with this is to allow discounts for new purchases and trades if a consumer goes to a higher gas mileage automobile.  Energy savings in the form of tax breaks and incentives and grants have long been available for the home owner....why not the automobile owner.  If you as a consumer trade in a vehicle that gets 15 miles per gallon for a vehicle that gets 30 miles per gallon you should get a tax break or something.  Isn't that simple....with the reduction of demand you would find a stablization of prices.... I guess...or maybe I am just being political.  Usage and demand are the biggest problems.  I bought a 38  mile per gallon car..... My problem is much smaller than the BIG SUV owner....who has no kids, but needs a BIG vehicle for some reason.

Then there is the all familiar forgiving public..... Where is our outrage?  We have a President and Vice President that rake in more and more cash for when they are out of office each and every time the price goes up..... I bet Cindy McCain has a ton of money in oil and gas as well...why not...  THOSE companies are posting HUGE profits while we make our way to our local Big Box or Discount Grocery Store to purchase what we can with what is left of our money.   IT used to be prescription drugs that I worried about eating up my money during my retirement...now I wonder if it will be the price of gas for my car or home. 

In talking with a young man the other day I found out that he pays approximately $20 a day in gas to work at a job where he is making $75 a day.   After taxes and a $5 lunch....if he is lucky...he ends up netting $36.50 a day....Yikes and with that he has to pay rent, buy food, pay off extortionate Student Loans and maybe...just maybe go to a movie once in a while.  His love life must be wonderful....when a romantic dinner is 11PM at Wendy's from the $1 Menu.

It just goes to show.  Americans will adapt to anything.  What I would like to see at least is that government take some responsible position instead of a political one....Maybe encourage smaller vehicles, maybe push for sensible alternative fuels and maybe just maybe solve the Middle East Problem.  Isn't it amazing that Venezuelans pay the least for gas because thier consumers use thier product?  We have the brightest minds to figure this out.....Why can't we learn to use our own resources??? Do we have to continue to consume the world's costly energy?  Is there a better way???

 

 

 

News roundup: New airport hangar

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for this and other stories:

• A new hangar will go up at the Genesee County Airport, and it will cost some $695,000. The county legislature approved the contracts to two Rochester firms and another from Fishers. A state grant will cover $300,000. The hangar will have ten bays that the county will rent out for between $280 and $350 per month.

Genesee County's Cold War veterans may get property tax break

By Howard B. Owens

As a Cold War veteran myself, the County's Legislature's proposal to cut property taxes by 10 percent for those who served in the military from 1945 to 1991 is applause worthy.

If approved, the tax break would be effective March 1, 2009, for county tax bills. The property must be a private residence of the veteran or the unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran.

Those who served in the three wars during that period — Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm — are currently eligible for property tax exemptions.

Applications are processed by the county’s Veteran Service Office.

For the Cold War veterans the percentage would apply to residential property values up to $60,000. Those with homes assessed at more would get the same exemption but only to a cap level of $60,000.

I served in the USAF from 1980 to 1994, and I always felt like I did my part to protect the country from the Red Menace, so it's nice to see the Cold War veterans of Genesee get some recognition.

Garden Gala

By Philip Anselmo

Green thumbs, get up and go! This Saturday is the Garden Gala at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia from 10:00am to 1:00pm. More than just a chance for greenies to get outside and schmooze, the gala will have:

"A plant sale featuring indoor and outdoor plants, a Chance-Basket auction, free soil testing, gardening advice by certified Master Gardeners, door prizes, displays, free coffee and informational materials."

Children's activities will be run by the Genesee Green Thumbs (the Junior Master Gardener 4-H Club). Door prizes begin at 1:00pm — the auction, too. And Extension Educator Gail Culver advises folks to get there early as the plants sell out quickly. For more information, call Gail Culver at (585) 343-3040 ext.132.

 

The Batavian plays with toys

By Philip Anselmo

Full of coffee and unshaven, I took off to Adam Miller's Toy and Bicycles this morning to poke around — and I took a video camera with me. They've got everything. Magic tricks. Games. Bicycles. Model cars, planes, boats. Wind-up anything. Vintage everything. Plush whatever. Check it out.

News roundup: Another suspect in the murder of Desean Gooch sentenced in County Court

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

• Randall J. Peterson, 22, of Rochester was sentenced to 12 years in state prison Tuesday in Genesee County Court. Peterson was one of four men involved in the shooting death of 23-year-old Desean Gooch in October, 2006. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery.

• Reporter Roger Muehlig writes: "Genesee County's Republican Committee is set to endorse Stephen M. Hawley for re-election to the state Assembly this year." The committee meets Thursday night. Hawley has already served one two-year term in the 139th District.

• Construction has begun on the Lowe's home improvement store off Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. Representatives have said they do not know when it will be finished. The nearby Target should be completed by July.

• Officials with Creamy Creation and O-AT-KA Milk Products dedicated the new Creamy Creation's 5,000-square-foot facility in Batavia Tuesday. Reporter Matt Surtel writes: "Creamy Creation is part of the Netherlands-based Campina, which is one of Europe's largest dairy cooperatives. The company was started in 1979, and moved its U.S. office from Wisconsin to Batavia in 1999." Creamy Creations produces creme liqueurs and nutritional beverages, among other products.

• Reporter Scott DeSmit writes: "Phillip E. Kroft Jr., 20, was charged with first-degree robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and petit larceny, police Detective Todd Crossett said. Kroft is accused of stealing a cell phone from a woman ... in the early summer of last year." When the woman tried to get her phone back, Kroft allegedly punched her in the stomach, wearing brass knuckles, police told DeSmit. Kroft also faces unrelated charges of rape.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

It Is All Just Words.......

By Patrick D. Burk

When all is said and done, there is not one single thing that is more important than working with and taking care of our children.  In the past this was always handled, and rightly so, by the parents....however in today's world...this has also changed.  Parents are the single most influential aspect in a young person's life...that is if there is an active and engaged parenting unit in the child's life.  Parents are also the most influential even if they are bad at parenting.  That is the crux of the matter.  Good or bad....parents influence. 

You may notice that I have used the word parent, not father or mother...although that is the most significant and familiar defintion of the term.  Parent's can take many other forms as well.  Today we have grandparent's who fill this role along with aunts, uncles, older siblings and completely unrelated people.  Today we have to look at the word parent as the person who has the single most influence on the young child and hope that that influence is positive and nurturing in nature.  The very definition of parent has changed in the 21st Century.  We are on the cusp of having a redefining element in what actually is "parenting". 

This is one reason why politicians these days try to explain the importance of the "traditional" family.  What they do not see is that this definition as well has changed.  If "family" does not reflect what they percieve as the "former norm" of two parents and 2.5 children, then it must be a bad thing.  Since the basic defintion of family has changed and many are now not the norm, it is imperative that we STOP making those children, parents and caretakes feel that they are lesser in many ways.  Always reciting the nauseating "family values" politics without acknowledging the change and its importance in lowering the importance of the non-traditional family reduces the importance of exactly what these non-traditional parents are accomplishing.

Can you  imagine a child realizing that they are in a lesser family unit because a politician, teacher or religious leader steps up and tells them that the optimum family is a Mom, Dad and 2.5 children.  The child will realize that they are being told that they are in a much lesser form of family when in fact, they may be in a wonderfully stable environment.  So what is more important?  Having the old norm of family permeate the child and his thinking or redefining the word and realizing that there are non-traditional settings that are great families.  I have actually met a child that was told that he would be better in school if he had two parents to concentrate on his educational needs.

Now that statement may be true. There is not a doubt that the two parent family (again notice the removal of terms father and mother) is in fact the optimum ideal...but that does not diminish the grandmother that has the successful opportunity to raise her loving grandchildren because that is thier family of choice or need.  It also does not  explain why in non-traditional families, there is also a great emphasis placed on character education and nurturing.  There are plenty of examples of two parent traditional families who have not been successful in providing the stable, nurturing and loving environment that is needed for raising our children.   There are phenominal examples of non-traditional families that excel.  

You may be wondering where all this has come from.  I do like to write about a ton of topics, but this comes from a direct conversation that I have had with another person in the field of education.  It is pure, plain and simple....if we tell the child that they are coming from a lesser value of family, the child - as a member of that family - will also think that they are lesser.  It is time to redefine what the word "family" means.  It is time to take a clear look at who the "parents" are with each child and it is time to stop thinking that just because a child has a mom and a dad he is from a stable nurturing environment.  It is time to think of the child instead or our antiquated definitiions of words.

Thanks for listening.

 

    

 

News roundup: Construction at the Medical Center

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

• The United Memorial Medical Center could face a tough road ahead in getting its construction projects financed. "Organized labor," writes Dan Fischer, is blocking the state legislature's renewal of a law that allows non-profits to borrow from Industrial Development Agencies at low finance rates. The unions insist that the law include a provision that says projects funded through IDA financing must pay "prevailing union wages," which could put costs too high to manage. (This seems like a complex story. I would like to find out more about it. Such as: How can the labor unions block the law? And why wouldn't IDA-funded projects already be required to pay prevailing union wages?) UPDATE: Found more information here at the Buffalo News.

• A deck of playing cards illustrating 52 (unsolved) homicides and missing persons cases from around the state will be issued to prisoners across the state, including those at Genesee County Jail. Inmates may call a toll free number printed on the card if they have information.

• The Genesee County Legislature will meet tonight at 7:00pm at the Old County Courthouse.

Genesee Community College students can expect another tuition increase

By Howard B. Owens

As astonishingly high as taxes are in New York, you would think attending a community college would be free -- as it was in California for many decades, until Prop. 13 (a cap on property taxes passed in 1978) eroded state revenue.

Nope.

In fact, Genesee students will get to pay another $50 per-semester, making total semester costs $1,700.

Ouch.

The increase, part of a $30.8 million GCC budget for 2008-09, was adopted during the monthly meeting of the board of trustees Monday.

The budget proposes a $50,000 increase in support from Genesee County, sponsor of the college. Last year, the college was granted a $100,000 increase from county funds, raising taxpayers’ support to $1.8 million, about 6 percent of the total college budget. Officials have maintained that the county’s share is the second lowest among county-sponsored two-year colleges in the state.

The increase must yet be approved by the County Legislature.  The rubber stamps are probably already inked.

Bill Kauffman's new book capture's America's unique personalities

By Howard B. Owens

Area author Bill Kauffman gets a favorable review of his new book, Look Homeward, America, in Reason Magazine.

Writer John McClaughry compares him to East Aurora's writer, thinker and quote machine, Elbert Hubbard.

In many respects—not including the creation of a 300-employee publishing house—Bill Kauffman of tiny Elba, New York, has become today’s Elbert Hubbard. But unlike Hubbard, whose essays glorified the lives and works of famous people, Kauffman’s literary journey seeks out “the America of holy fools and backyard radicals, the America whose eccentric voice is seldom heard anymore…the [voice of] third parties, of Greenbackers and Libertarians and village atheists and the ‘conservative Christian anarchist’ party whose founder and only member was Henry Adams.”

Kauffman’s earlier books mined interesting veins of localism and hostility to modernity. America First! celebrated America’s forgotten isolationist activists, from Hamlin Garland to Alice Roosevelt, plus other assorted individualists, including Edward Abbey, Gore Vidal, Sinclair Lewis, and this writer, included because he considered me, not altogether inaccurately, the last lonely true-believing Jeffersonian. His Dispatches From the Muckdog Gazette celebrated the lives of the common people of Kauffman’s Genesee County, home of the minor league Batavia Muckdogs baseball team.

Governor Paterson in Batavia: Reporter's notebook (and Farmer response)

By Philip Anselmo

It wasn't yet even one o'clock Monday, and the Grange was already filled up with folks of all walks, though most the kind that walked corn rows or trough lines. Two months shy of the Genesee County Fair and the grounds had already come alive with farmers, a couple hundred of them by the look of it — young, old, bearded, garrulous.

Our state governor ended up arriving more than an hour late, which only gave more folks time to get there. Some of them came in suit and tie, a few in tee-shirt and jeans. Some came bearing champagne-stocked gift baskets. That was nice and all, but I feel that more of our elected officials should be bringing us sparkling wine and truffles. Just because.

Once the flash bulbs started popping and a slow-moving crush of bodies inched toward the podium, you knew the governor had arrived. I expected him to be larger. I don't know why. Maybe because I expect all powerful men (and women) to be of superhuman size, as if girth and stature somehow invest their motives with more purpose. But no matter. He didn't need to be extra-large. Governor David Paterson had presence.

After Senator Schumer bobbled a few names of important guests in the audience, even though they were written down on a piece of paper in front of him that he read up close through spectacles — no offense, senator — Paterson only seemed the more remarkable when he took the microphone and dropped names, numbers, dates and stories as if he were inventing them right there they came off his tongue with such immediacy and conviction. At one point, the governor even corrected one of the questioners who cited article 240 of the state code, when in fact it was article 241 — don't quote me on the numbers, but you get the idea.

And all of this preamble just to say that I wasn't the only person there who was impressed with Paterson — all policy decisions aside. This afternoon, I got a few area farmers on the phone to get their take on the governor's visit. Here's what they had to say (in their own words).

Dale Stein is a dairy farmer out in LeRoy. He's also the current president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. I asked him what he thought of the visit.

"The visit turned out very well, even more than I expected. The governor is extremely knowledgeable. And we have an opportunity now to build a relationship with the governor about agriculture. I'm very optimistic."

Steve Rigoni used to be a dairy farmer himself, but switched to cash crops. He's got about 600 acres out in Pavilion that he divides up among corn, soy bean, wheat, hay and switchgrass that he burns to dry his corn for sale in the markets. Steve is big into renewable energies. He's got a windmill up on his site to help power the place. And the switchgrass is a great alternative to propane, he says.

He was also impressed by the governor's visit.

"I'm hopeful for this governor. He seems to be in tune. He's very intelligent, seems to be able to remember everything, and seems to have a good handle on what can be done. You can't create miracles. You've got to work within the federal government's framework. ... I thought it went well. That was the first time a governor came out and talked with us in our neighborhood. Now, there are things that need to be done."

Dean Norton operates a dairy farm out of Elba. He also represents the state Farm Bureau's Board of Directors and works as an accountant. You could say he's a busy man. Not so much that he can't take my call, though, and I appreciate that.

"I was glad that Senator Schumer was able to get the governor out to meet the farming community. I thought it was great that they could make it out. He brought out his commissioners and they listened to some of the concerns that growers had in the area. I think they listened. How quickly they act on something, I don't know."

There is still much to be done, says Norton. A visit and a nice forum with the farmers is one thing. Getting legislation through to help the farmers in the field, is quite another.

"You heard folks talk about the labor issue. That's first and foremost. If we don't get those workers here, the crops will rot in the field. And we need to get some type of immigration reform done, period. We keep getting assurances from our elected officials, but nothing done."

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